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Critical Reading and Writing for Postgraduates


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Table of Contents

Becoming a Critical Reader and Self-Critical Writer What it Means to Be Critical Making a Critical Choice A First Look: Interrogating Abstracts Getting Started on Critical Reading Getting Started on Self-Critical Writing Creating a Comparative Critical Summary Developing an In-Depth Analysis A Mental Map for Navigating the Literature Tools for Thinking and Ways of Thinking Reasons for Conducting the Research Knowledge Claims and their Key Characteristics Developing a Critical Analysis of a Text A Worked Example of a Critical Analysis Developing your Argument in Writing a Critical Review of a Text Putting your Critical Reviews to Work Focusing and Building up your Critical Literature Review Integrating Critical Literature Reviews into your Dissertation Critical Literature Reviews in Alternative Dissertation Structures Tools for Structuring a Dissertation Using the Literature in Research Papers and Oral Presentations

About the Author

Mike Wallace is a Professor of Public Management at Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University. He is an Associate Director of the Advanced Institute of Management Research (AIM), responsible for research capacity building in the management field. He is also the Economic and Social Research Council's Strategic Adviser for Researcher Development. Mike is series editor of the Sage Learning to Read Critically series of books. His own research on managing change in the public services is reported in many books and academic journals. Alison Wray is a Research Professor of Language and Communication at Cardiff University. Her research concerns the modelling of lexical storage and processing, particularly in relation to formulaic phrases, and it has been applied to language learning, evolution of language and language disability. Her two monographs Formulaic Language and the Lexicon (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and Formulaic Language: Pushing the Boundaries (Oxford University Press, 2008) are internationally acclaimed. Her current research is into dementia communication. She has a longstanding commitment to researcher training, including the developing of academic expertise. She is lead author of the popular undergraduate research methods textbook Projects in Linguistics (Hodder, 2012).


This updated and expanded edition contains a welcome revision of a very useful guide to critical reading, writing and thinking in academic work. It provides an extremely detailed step-by-step guide to engaging with several types of academic literature and it presents numerous worked examples of how critical writing should be done. The book should be regarded as essential reading for postgraduate students, especially with regard to the preparation of dissertations and theses. It will also be of great value for academics engaged in the critical review of literature in their respective fields and for critical reflection upon their own work for publication. -- Alan Phipps

This book will be a must read for my research students. It is practical with its various techniques and strategies, without being prescriptive. It will build your confidence in critically engaging with what you read and, because the authors treat reading and writing as an intertwined process, it will help with evidencing your own claims, identifying gaps in your arguments and seeing the assumptions you forget you are making. Indeed this book has the capacity to support us all to become better writers.

-- Melanie Nind
This book demystifies the 'what' and 'why' of critical reading and writing in a highly accessible way. Scaffolded activities which encourage self-reflection provide essential practice for postgraduates wishing to develop their critical sub-skills, and are also an invaluable resource for Learning Development professionals working to foster these sub-skills in their students, whatever their disciplinary context or cultural background. -- Chris Bishop

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