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Research Writing ~ How to Write a Research Paper

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  • Critical Thinking
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Critical thinking is the process of analyzing information and deciding whether it makes sense. This process includes the ability to reflect on ideas and form independent thoughts and connecting concepts. A person with good critical thinking skills is able to do the following: ( Source:  http://philosophy.hku.hk/think/critical/ct.php )

  • understand the logical connections between ideas
  • identify, construct and evaluate arguments
  • detect inconsistencies and common mistakes in reasoning
  • solve problems systematically
  • identify the relevance and importance of ideas
  • reflect on the justification of one's own beliefs and values

Your writing should demonstrate:

  • A clear understanding of your topic.
  • An understanding of the main ideas and their relationship to one another.
  • A clear presentation of your agreement or disagreement with the topic and your reasons for this opinion.This includes dispelling counterpoints to your argument.
  • An awareness of your readers, in most cases, the instructors, unless you make clear that you are writing for another audience.
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Search catalog, critical thinking and academic research: intro.

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Critical Thinking and Academic Research

Academic research focuses on the creation of new ideas, perspectives, and arguments. The researcher seeks relevant information in articles, books, and other sources, then develops an informed point of view within this ongoing "conversation" among researchers.

The research process is not simply collecting data, evidence, or "facts," then piecing together this preexisting information into a paper. Instead, the research process is about inquiry—asking questions and developing answers through serious critical thinking and thoughtful reflection.

As a result, the research process is recursive, meaning that the researcher regularly revisits ideas, seeks new information when necessary, and reconsiders and refines the research question, topic, or approach. In other words, research almost always involves constant reflection and revision.

This guide is designed to help you think through various aspects of the research process. The steps are not sequential, nor are they prescriptive about what steps you should take at particular points in the research process. Instead, the guide should help you consider the larger, interrelated elements of thinking involved in research.

Research Anxiety?

Research is not often easy or straightforward, so it's completely normal to feel anxious, frustrated, or confused. In fact, if you feel anxious, it can be a good sign that you're engaging in the type of critical thinking necessary to research and write a high-quality paper.

Think of the research process not as one giant, impossibly complicated task, but as a series of smaller, interconnected steps. These steps can be messy, and there is not one correct sequence of steps that will work for every researcher. However, thinking about research in small steps can help you be more productive and alleviate anxiety.

Paul-Elder Framework

This guide is based on the "Elements of Reasoning" from the Paul-Elder framework for critical thinking. For more information about the Paul-Elder framework, click the link below.

Some of the content in this guide has been adapted from The Aspiring Thinker's Guide to Critical Thinking (2009) by Linda Elder and Richard Paul.

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11.5 Critical Thinking and Research Applications

Learning objectives.

  • Analyze source materials to determine how they support or refute the working thesis.
  • Identify connections between source materials and eliminate redundant or irrelevant source materials.
  • Identify instances when it is appropriate to use human sources, such as interviews or eyewitness testimony.
  • Select information from sources to begin answering the research questions.
  • Determine an appropriate organizational structure for the research paper that uses critical analysis to connect the writer’s ideas and information taken from sources.

At this point in your project, you are preparing to move from the research phase to the writing phase. You have gathered much of the information you will use, and soon you will be ready to begin writing your draft. This section helps you transition smoothly from one phase to the next.

Beginning writers sometimes attempt to transform a pile of note cards into a formal research paper without any intermediary step. This approach presents problems. The writer’s original question and thesis may be buried in a flood of disconnected details taken from research sources. The first draft may present redundant or contradictory information. Worst of all, the writer’s ideas and voice may be lost.

An effective research paper focuses on the writer’s ideas—from the question that sparked the research process to how the writer answers that question based on the research findings. Before beginning a draft, or even an outline, good writers pause and reflect. They ask themselves questions such as the following:

  • How has my thinking changed based on my research? What have I learned?
  • Was my working thesis on target? Do I need to rework my thesis based on what I have learned?
  • How does the information in my sources mesh with my research questions and help me answer those questions? Have any additional important questions or subtopics come up that I will need to address in my paper?
  • How do my sources complement each other? What ideas or facts recur in multiple sources?
  • Where do my sources disagree with each other, and why?

In this section, you will reflect on your research and review the information you have gathered. You will determine what you now think about your topic. You will synthesize , or put together, different pieces of information that help you answer your research questions. Finally, you will determine the organizational structure that works best for your paper and begin planning your outline.

Review the research questions and working thesis you developed in Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” , Section 11.2 “Steps in Developing a Research Proposal” . Set a timer for ten minutes and write about your topic, using your questions and thesis to guide your writing. Complete this exercise without looking over your notes or sources. Base your writing on the overall impressions and concepts you have absorbed while conducting research. If additional, related questions come to mind, jot them down.

Selecting Useful Information

At this point in the research process, you have gathered information from a wide variety of sources. Now it is time to think about how you will use this information as a writer.

When you conduct research, you keep an open mind and seek out many promising sources. You take notes on any information that looks like it might help you answer your research questions. Often, new ideas and terms come up in your reading, and these, too, find their way into your notes. You may record facts or quotations that catch your attention even if they did not seem immediately relevant to your research question. By now, you have probably amassed an impressively detailed collection of notes.

You will not use all of your notes in your paper.

Good researchers are thorough. They look at multiple perspectives, facts, and ideas related to their topic, and they gather a great deal of information. Effective writers, however, are selective. They determine which information is most relevant and appropriate for their purpose. They include details that develop or explain their ideas—and they leave out details that do not. The writer, not the pile of notes, is the controlling force. The writer shapes the content of the research paper.

While working through Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” , Section 11.4 “Strategies for Gathering Reliable Information” , you used strategies to filter out unreliable or irrelevant sources and details. Now you will apply your critical-thinking skills to the information you recorded—analyzing how it is relevant, determining how it meshes with your ideas, and finding how it forms connections and patterns.

Writing at Work

When you create workplace documents based on research, selectivity remains important. A project team may spend months conducting market surveys to prepare for rolling out a new product, but few managers have time to read the research in its entirety. Most employees want the research distilled into a few well-supported points. Focused, concise writing is highly valued in the workplace.

Identify Information That Supports Your Thesis

In Note 11.81 “Exercise 1” , you revisited your research questions and working thesis. The process of writing informally helped you see how you might begin to pull together what you have learned from your research. Do not feel anxious, however, if you still have trouble seeing the big picture. Systematically looking through your notes will help you.

Begin by identifying the notes that clearly support your thesis. Mark or group these, either physically or using the cut-and-paste function in your word-processing program. As you identify the crucial details that support your thesis, make sure you analyze them critically. Ask the following questions to focus your thinking:

  • Is this detail from a reliable, high-quality source? Is it appropriate for me to cite this source in an academic paper? The bulk of the support for your thesis should come from reliable, reputable sources. If most of the details that support your thesis are from less-reliable sources, you may need to do additional research or modify your thesis.
  • Is the link between this information and my thesis obvious—or will I need to explain it to my readers? Remember, you have spent more time thinking and reading about this topic than your audience. Some connections might be obvious to both you and your readers. More often, however, you will need to provide the analysis or explanation that shows how the information supports your thesis. As you read through your notes, jot down ideas you have for making those connections clear.
  • What personal biases or experiences might affect the way I interpret this information? No researcher is 100 percent objective. We all have personal opinions and experiences that influence our reactions to what we read and learn. Good researchers are aware of this human tendency. They keep an open mind when they read opinions or facts that contradict their beliefs.

It can be tempting to ignore information that does not support your thesis or that contradicts it outright. However, such information is important. At the very least, it gives you a sense of what has been written about the issue. More importantly, it can help you question and refine your own thinking so that writing your research paper is a true learning process.

Find Connections between Your Sources

As you find connections between your ideas and information in your sources, also look for information that connects your sources. Do most sources seem to agree on a particular idea? Are some facts mentioned repeatedly in many different sources? What key terms or major concepts come up in most of your sources regardless of whether the sources agree on the finer points? Identifying these connections will help you identify important ideas to discuss in your paper.

Look for subtler ways your sources complement one another, too. Does one author refer to another’s book or article? How do sources that are more recent build upon the ideas developed in earlier sources?

Be aware of any redundancies in your sources. If you have amassed solid support from a reputable source, such as a scholarly journal, there is no need to cite the same facts from an online encyclopedia article that is many steps removed from any primary research. If a given source adds nothing new to your discussion and you can cite a stronger source for the same information, use the stronger source.

Determine how you will address any contradictions found among different sources. For instance, if one source cites a startling fact that you cannot confirm anywhere else, it is safe to dismiss the information as unreliable. However, if you find significant disagreements among reliable sources, you will need to review them and evaluate each source. Which source presents a sounder argument or more solid evidence? It is up to you to determine which source is the most credible and why.

Finally, do not ignore any information simply because it does not support your thesis. Carefully consider how that information fits into the big picture of your research. You may decide that the source is unreliable or the information is not relevant, or you may decide that it is an important point you need to bring up. What matters is that you give it careful consideration.

As Jorge reviewed his research, he realized that some of the information was not especially useful for his purpose. His notes included several statements about the relationship between soft drinks that are high in sugar and childhood obesity—a subtopic that was too far outside of the main focus of the paper. Jorge decided to cut this material.

Reevaluate Your Working Thesis

A careful analysis of your notes will help you reevaluate your working thesis and determine whether you need to revise it. Remember that your working thesis was the starting point—not necessarily the end point—of your research. You should revise your working thesis if your ideas changed based on what you read. Even if your sources generally confirmed your preliminary thinking on the topic, it is still a good idea to tweak the wording of your thesis to incorporate the specific details you learned from research.

Jorge realized that his working thesis oversimplified the issues. He still believed that the media was exaggerating the benefits of low-carb diets. However, his research led him to conclude that these diets did have some advantages. Read Jorge’s revised thesis.

Although following a low-carbohydrate diet can benefit some people, these diets are not necessarily the best option for everyone who wants to lose weight or improve their health.

Synthesizing and Organizing Information

By now your thinking on your topic is taking shape. You have a sense of what major ideas to address in your paper, what points you can easily support, and what questions or subtopics might need a little more thought. In short, you have begun the process of synthesizing information—that is, of putting the pieces together into a coherent whole.

It is normal to find this part of the process a little difficult. Some questions or concepts may still be unclear to you. You may not yet know how you will tie all of your research together. Synthesizing information is a complex, demanding mental task, and even experienced researchers struggle with it at times. A little uncertainty is often a good sign! It means you are challenging yourself to work thoughtfully with your topic instead of simply restating the same information.

Use Your Research Questions to Synthesize Information

You have already considered how your notes fit with your working thesis. Now, take your synthesis a step further. Analyze how your notes relate to your major research question and the subquestions you identified in Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” , Section 11.2 “Steps in Developing a Research Proposal” . Organize your notes with headings that correspond to those questions. As you proceed, you might identify some important subtopics that were not part of your original plan, or you might decide that some questions are not relevant to your paper.

Categorize information carefully and continue to think critically about the material. Ask yourself whether the sources are reliable and whether the connections between ideas are clear.

Remember, your ideas and conclusions will shape the paper. They are the glue that holds the rest of the content together. As you work, begin jotting down the big ideas you will use to connect the dots for your reader. (If you are not sure where to begin, try answering your major research question and subquestions. Add and answer new questions as appropriate.) You might record these big ideas on sticky notes or type and highlight them within an electronic document.

Jorge looked back on the list of research questions that he had written down earlier. He changed a few to match his new thesis, and he began a rough outline for his paper.

Jorge's rough outline

Review your research questions and working thesis again. This time, keep them nearby as you review your research notes.

  • Identify information that supports your working thesis.
  • Identify details that call your thesis into question. Determine whether you need to modify your thesis.
  • Use your research questions to identify key ideas in your paper. Begin categorizing your notes according to which topics are addressed. (You may find yourself adding important topics or deleting unimportant ones as you proceed.)
  • Write out your revised thesis and at least two or three big ideas.

You may be wondering how your ideas are supposed to shape the paper, especially since you are writing a research paper based on your research. Integrating your ideas and your information from research is a complex process, and sometimes it can be difficult to separate the two.

Some paragraphs in your paper will consist mostly of details from your research. That is fine, as long as you explain what those details mean or how they are linked. You should also include sentences and transitions that show the relationship between different facts from your research by grouping related ideas or pointing out connections or contrasts. The result is that you are not simply presenting information; you are synthesizing, analyzing, and interpreting it.

Plan How to Organize Your Paper

The final step to complete before beginning your draft is to choose an organizational structure. For some assignments, this may be determined by the instructor’s requirements. For instance, if you are asked to explore the impact of a new communications device, a cause-and-effect structure is obviously appropriate. In other cases, you will need to determine the structure based on what suits your topic and purpose. For more information about the structures used in writing, see Chapter 10 “Rhetorical Modes” .

The purpose of Jorge’s paper was primarily to persuade. With that in mind, he planned the following outline.

An outline for Jorge's paper

Review the organizational structures discussed in this section and Chapter 10 “Rhetorical Modes” . Working with the notes you organized earlier, follow these steps to begin planning how to organize your paper.

  • Create an outline that includes your thesis, major subtopics, and supporting points.
  • The major headings in your outline will become sections or paragraphs in your paper. Remember that your ideas should form the backbone of the paper. For each major section of your outline, write out a topic sentence stating the main point you will make in that section.
  • As you complete step 2, you may find that some points are too complex to explain in a sentence. Consider whether any major sections of your outline need to be broken up and jot down additional topic sentences as needed.
  • Review your notes and determine how the different pieces of information fit into your outline as supporting points.


Please share the outline you created with a classmate. Examine your classmate’s outline and see if any questions come to mind or if you see any area that would benefit from an additional point or clarification. Return the outlines to each other and compare observations.

The structures described in this section and Chapter 10 “Rhetorical Modes” can also help you organize information in different types of workplace documents. For instance, medical incident reports and police reports follow a chronological structure. If the company must choose between two vendors to provide a service, you might write an e-mail to your supervisor comparing and contrasting the choices. Understanding when and how to use each organizational structure can help you write workplace documents efficiently and effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • An effective research paper focuses on presenting the writer’s ideas using information from research as support.
  • Effective writers spend time reviewing, synthesizing, and organizing their research notes before they begin drafting a research paper.
  • It is important for writers to revisit their research questions and working thesis as they transition from the research phase to the writing phrase of a project. Usually, the working thesis will need at least minor adjustments.
  • To organize a research paper, writers choose a structure that is appropriate for the topic and purpose. Longer papers may make use of more than one structure.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

critical thinking in research paper

The Role of Critical Thinking in Research and Academic Writing

In the modern world, where knowledge is easy to find, being able to think critically is becoming more and more important. Critical thinking is a mental skill that enables people to examine, evaluate, and make sense of knowledge in a rational way. It is an important part of both study and academic writing because it helps researchers dig deeper into complicated topics, come to useful conclusions, and explain their results well. In this article, we’ll talk about the role of critical thinking in research and academic writing. We’ll show how important it is and give you some tips on how to improve this important skill.

Table of Contents

What Does Critical Thinking Mean?

Critical thinking means being able to look at facts, ideas, and opinions without being biased. It includes asking relevant questions, finding logical flaws, recognizing biases, and making well-informed decisions based on facts and thinking. Critical thinkers look at problems and ideas with an open mind and try to understand things from different points of view. They are good at reasonable thinking, making decisions based on facts, and fixing problems in a good way.

Importance of Critical Thinking in Research

Critical thinking plays a vital role in the research, ensuring its effectiveness in conveying research findings. Critical thinkers engage in thorough literature reviews, identifying gaps and inconsistencies in existing research. By examining the existing body of knowledge, researchers can structure their papers better. Following the appropriate format of a research paper is vital in organizing the content.  It provides a framework that helps to present findings. This allows readers to navigate through the information effortless.

Critical Thinking Skills in Academic Writing

For academic writing, you need to be able to think critically. Scholars must carefully analyze, synthesize, and evaluate what they already know in order to come up with well-reasoned points and add to the sum of knowledge in their field. Here are some important critical thinking skills that academic writing requires:

Analyzing and Evaluating Information

Critical minds look at the information they find and examine it carefully. They figure out how credible and reliable sources are, look for biases and assumptions, and look at the facts in a critical way. This skill is important for academic writing because it makes sure that writers back up their points with reliable and relevant information.

Developing Clear and Coherent Arguments

One of the most important goals of writing is to make a case that is clear and makes sense. Critical thinking helps writers order their ideas, figure out what’s most important, and set up their cases in a way that makes sense. By analyzing different points of view and pieces of data closely, writers can make strong claims that are backed up by good thinking.

Avoiding Logical Fallacies

The validity of a case can be hurt by logical errors. Critical minds are very good at spotting and avoiding bad arguments. They know how to spot common mistakes in reasoning, like ad hominem attacks, fake dichotomies, and rushed assumptions. By avoiding these mistakes, academic writers can make their points stronger and make their case more convincing.

Recognizing Biases and Assumptions

The standard of study and academic work can be hurt by biases and assumptions in a big way. Critical thinkers are aware of their own biases and try to identify and fight them. They also look for flaws in the study they do, which helps them make sure their work is more objective and fair.

Problem-Solving and Decision Making

Critical thinking includes being able to solve problems and make good decisions. Scholars often face problems, contradictory proof, and ethics questions when they do study. Researchers can handle these problems in an organized way by using critical thinking. They can weigh their choices and make decisions based on evidence and social concerns.

Enhancing Creativity and Innovation

Creativity and creation go hand in hand with being able to think critically. Critical thinkers can come up with new ideas and new ways to solve hard problems by questioning accepted rules, looking at things from different points of view, and thinking outside the box. When you can think artistically, you can add depth and creativity to your academic work.

Challenges in Developing Critical Thinking Skills

Even though critical thought is an important skill, it is not easy. To get good at critical thought, you need time, work, and practice. Some of the most common problems are:

Overreliance on personal biases and beliefs.

Difficulty in recognizing and challenging assumptions.

Limited exposure to diverse perspectives and ideas.

Lack of information literacy and critical evaluation skills.

Emotional and cognitive biases cloud judgment.

Strategies to Improve Critical Thinking

Critical thought is a skill that can be learned and improved with practice. Here are some ways to improve your ability to think critically:

Engage in active reading and reflection.

Seek out diverse viewpoints and perspectives.

Practice questioning and challenging assumptions.

Develop information literacy and research skills.

Engage in debates and discussions with others.

Solve puzzles and engage in logical reasoning exercises.

Take courses or workshops on critical thinking.

Incorporating Critical Thinking in Research

Scholars can follow these rules to bring critical thinking into their research:

Set clear goals and questions for your study.

Do a thorough study of the literature.

Think about the sources’ reliability and usefulness.

Use critical thought to look at facts and figure out what it means.

Use strict methods and plans for study.

During the study process, you should question beliefs and biases.

Make it clear what the limits are and what the results mean.

Research and academic writing both need people who can think critically. It gives researchers the tools they need to dig deeper, think more critically, and explain their results well. By getting better at critical thought, experts and writers can make high-quality work that makes important contributions to their areas. Getting better at critical thinking takes work, but it pays off in the form of brain growth, better problem-solving skills, and more creativity.

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The Art and Science of Critical Thinking in Research: A Guide to Academic Excellence

Dr. Sowndarya Somasundaram

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Table of contents

Rigor and accuracy, evaluation of evidence, identification of biases and assumptions, problem-solving, development of new ideas, communication, evaluate the credibility of sources, assess the quality of evidence, consider alternative explanations, challenge assumptions, seek out feedback, practice analyzing data, attend conferences and seminars, define the research problem, conduct a comprehensive literature review, evaluate evidence and sources, analyze and synthesize information, question assumptions, evaluate arguments and reasoning, consider multiple perspectives, ask critical questions, communicate effectively, practice self-reflection, embrace creativity and open-mindedness, seek feedback and engage in peer review.

Critical thinking is a fundamental skill in research and academia that involves analyzing, evaluating, and interpreting information in a systematic and logical manner. It is the process of objectively evaluating evidence, arguments, and ideas to arrive at well-reasoned conclusions or make informed decisions.

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The art and science of critical thinking in research is a multifaceted and dynamic process that requires intellectual rigor, creativity, and an open mind.

In research, critical thinking is essential for developing research questions, designing research studies, collecting and analyzing data, and interpreting research findings. It allows researchers to evaluate the quality and validity of research studies, identify gaps in the literature, and make evidence-based decisions.

Critical thinking in research also involves being open to alternative viewpoints and being willing to revise one’s own conclusions based on new evidence. It requires intellectual humility and a willingness to challenge one’s own assumptions and biases.

Why Critical Thinking is Important in Research?

Critical thinking is important in research for the following reasons:

It helps researchers to approach their work with rigor and accuracy, ensuring that the research methods and findings are reliable and valid.

Critical thinking helps researchers to evaluate the evidence they encounter and determine its relevance and reliability to the research question or hypothesis.

Critical thinking helps research ers to identify their own biases and assumptions and those of others, which can influence the research process and findings.

It helps researchers to identify and solve problems that may arise during the research process, such as inconsistencies in data or unexpected results.

Critical thinking can help researchers develop new ideas and theories based on their analysis of the evidence.

Critical thinking helps researchers to communicate their findings and ideas in a clear and logical manner, making it easier for others to understand and build on their work.

Therefore, critical thinking is essential for conducting rigorous and impactful research that can advance our understanding of the world around us.

It helps researchers to approach their work with a critical and objective perspective, evaluating evidence and developing insights that can contribute to the advancement of knowledge in their field.

How to develop critical thinking skills in research?

Developing critical thinking skills in research requires a specific set of strategies. Here are some ways to develop critical thinking skills in research:

In research, it is important to evaluate the credibility of sources to determine if the information is reliable and valid. To develop your critical thinking skills, practice evaluating the sources you encounter and assessing their credibility.

Critical thinking in research involves assessing the quality of evidence and determining if it supports the research question or hypothesis. Practice evaluating the quality of evidence and understanding how it impacts the research findings.

To develop critical thinking skills in research, practice considering alternative explanations for the findings. Evaluate the evidence and consider if there are other explanations that could account for the results.

Critical thinking in research involves challenging assumptions and exploring alternative perspectives. Practice questioning assumptions and considering different viewpoints to develop your critical thinking skills.

Seek out feedback from colleagues, advisors, or peers on your research methods and findings. This can help you identify areas where you need to improve your critical thinking skills and provide valuable insights for your research.

Critical thinking in research involves analyzing and interpreting data. Practice analyzing different types of data to develop your critical thinking skills.

Attend conferences and seminars in your field to learn about the latest research and to engage in critical discussions with other researchers. This can help you develop your critical thinking skills and keep up-to-date with the latest research in your field.

By consistently practicing these strategies, you can develop your critical thinking skills in research and become a more effective and insightful researcher.

The Art and Science of Critical Thinking in Research

The art and science of critical thinking in research is a vital skill for academic excellence. Here’s a guide to academic excellence through the art and science of critical thinking in research:

The first step in critical thinking is to define the research problem or question. This involves identifying the key concepts, understanding the context, and formulating a clear and concise research question or hypothesis. Clearly define the research question or problem you are trying to address. This will help you focus your thinking and avoid unnecessary distractions.

A thorough review of relevant literature is essential in critical thinking. It helps you understand the existing knowledge and research in the field, identify research gaps, and evaluate the quality and reliability of the evidence. It also allows you to identify different perspectives and theories related to the research problem.

Critical thinking requires careful evaluation of evidence and sources. This includes assessing the credibility, reliability, and validity of research studies, data sources, and information. It also involves identifying potential biases, limitations, and assumptions in the evidence and sources. Use reputable, peer-reviewed sources and critically analyze the evidence and arguments presented in those sources.

Critical thinking involves analyzing and synthesizing information from various sources. This includes identifying patterns, trends, and relationships among different pieces of information. It also requires organizing and integrating information to develop a coherent and logical argument.

Challenge your assumptions and biases. Be aware of your own biases and preconceived notions, and critically examine them to avoid potential bias in your research.

Critical thinking involves evaluating the strength and validity of arguments and reasoning. This includes identifying logical fallacies, evaluating the coherence and consistency of arguments, and assessing the evidence and support for arguments. It also involves considering alternative viewpoints and perspectives.

Apply critical thinking tools

Use critical thinking tools such as SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats), mind maps, concept maps, and flowcharts to organize and analyze information in a structured and systematic manner.

Apply critical thinking skills in research design and methodology: Critical thinking is essential in research design and methodology. This includes making informed decisions about research approaches, sampling methods, data collection, and data analysis techniques. It also involves anticipating potential limitations and biases in the research design and methodology.

Avoid tunnel vision by considering multiple perspectives and viewpoints on the issue at hand. This will help you gain a more comprehensive understanding of the topic and make informed decisions based on a broader range of information.

Critical Questions in Research

Some of the sample critical questions in the research are listed below.

1. What is the research question, and is it clearly defined?

2. What are the assumptions underlying the research question?

3. What is the methodology being used, and is it appropriate for the research organized

4. What are the limitations of the study, and how might they affect the results?

5. How representative is the sample being studied, and are there any biases in the selection process?

6. What are the potential sources of error or bias in the data collection process?

7. Are the statistical analyses used appropriate, and do they support the conclusions drawn from the data?

8. What are the implications of the research findings, and do they have practical significance?

9. Are there any ethical considerations that arise from the research, and have they been adequately addressed?

10. Are there any alternative explanations for the results, and have they been considered and ruled out?

Critical thinking requires effective communication skills to articulate and present research findings and arguments clearly and convincingly.

This includes writing clearly and concisely, using appropriate evidence and examples, and presenting information in a logical and organized manner. It also involves listening and responding critically to feedback and engaging in constructive discussions and debates.

Critical thinking involves self-reflection and self-awareness.  Reflect on your own thinking and decision-making process throughout the research. It requires regularly evaluating your own biases, assumptions, and limitations in your thinking process. It also involves being mindful of your emotions and personal beliefs that may influence your critical thinking and decision-making.

Critical thinking involves being open to new ideas, perspectives, and approaches. It requires creativity in generating and evaluating alternative solutions or interpretations.

It also involves being willing to revise your conclusions or change your research direction based on new information. Avoid confirmation bias and strive for objectivity in your research.

Critical thinking benefits from feedback and peer review. Seeking feedback from mentors, colleagues, or peer reviewers can help identify potential flaws or weaknesses in your research or arguments. Engaging in peer review also provides an opportunity to critically evaluate the work of others and learn from their perspectives.

By following these best practices and techniques, you can cultivate critical thinking skills that will enhance the quality and rigor of your research, leading to more successful outcomes.

Critical thinking is an essential component of research that enables researchers to evaluate information, identify biases, and draw valid conclusions.

It involves defining research problems, conducting literature reviews, evaluating evidence and sources, analyzing and synthesizing information, evaluating arguments and reasoning, applying critical thinking in research design and methodology, communicating effectively, embracing creativity and open-mindedness, practicing self-reflection, seeking feedback, and engaging in peer review.

By cultivating and applying critical thinking skills in research, you can enhance the quality and rigor of your work and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in your field.

Remember to continuously practice and refine your critical thinking skills as they are valuable not only in research but also in various aspects of life. Happy researching!

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How to Write a Research Paper: Critical Thinking

  • Choosing Your Topic
  • Citation & Style Guides This link opens in a new window
  • Critical Thinking
  • Evaluating Information
  • Parts of the Paper
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What is Critical Thinking? Critical thinking is the process of analyzing information and deciding whether it makes sense. This process includes the ability to reflect on ideas and form independent thoughts and connecting concepts. A person with good critical thinking skills is able to do the following:

  • Understand the logical connections between ideas
  • Identify, construct and evaluate arguments
  • Detect inconsistencies and common mistakes in reasoning
  • Solve problems systematically
  • Identify the relevance and importance of ideas
  • Reflect on the justification of one's own beliefs and values

Source:  http://philosophy.hku.hk/think/critical/ct.php

Your research writing should demonstrate ...

  • A clear understanding of your topic
  • An understanding of the main ideas and their relationship to one another
  • A clear presentation of your agreement or disagreement with the topic and your reasons for this opinion
  • An awareness of your readers / audience

Test your critical thinking skills. . . Critical Thinking Skills Success In 20 Minutes a Day from PrepSTEP

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  • Defining Critical Thinking
  • A Brief History of the Idea of Critical Thinking
  • Critical Thinking: Basic Questions & Answers
  • Our Conception of Critical Thinking
  • Sumner’s Definition of Critical Thinking

Research in Critical Thinking

  • Critical Societies: Thoughts from the Past

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Each year it sponsors an annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Educational Reform. It has worked with the College Board, the National Education Association, the U.S. Department of Education, as well as numerous colleges, universities, and school districts to facilitate the implementation of critical thinking instruction focused on intellectual standards.

The following three studies demonstrate:

  • the fact that, as a rule, critical thinking is not presently being effectively taught at the high school, college and university level, and yet
  • it is possible to do so.

To assess students' understanding of critical thinking, we recommend use of the International Critical Thinking Test as well as the Critical Thinking Interview Profile for College Students . To assess faculty understanding of critical thinking and its importance to instruction, we recommend the Critical Thinking Interview Profile For Teachers and Faculty . By registering as a member of the community, you will have access to streaming video, which includes a sample student interview with Dr. Richard Paul and Rush Cosgrove.


View Abstract  -  View Full Dissertation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

  A Critical Analysis of Richard Paul's Substantive Trans-disciplinary Conception of Critical Thinking

by Enoch Hale, Ph.D.

Union Institute & University - Cincinnati, Ohio - October 2008

View Abstract      Dissertation Table of Contents

Effect of a Model for Critical Thinking on Student Achievement in Primary Source Document Analysis and Interpretation, Argumentative Reasoning, Critical Thinking Dispositions and History Content in a Community College History Course Abstract of the Study, conducted by Jenny Reed, in partial fulfillment for her dissertation (October 26, 1998) View Abstract   -   View Full Dissertation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

The Effect of Richard Paul's Universal Elements and Standards of Reasoning on Twelfth Grade Composition A Research Proposal Presented to the Faculty Of the School of Education Alliant International University In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Education: Teaching Study conducted by J. Stephen Scanlan, San Diego (2006) View Abstract   -    View Full Dissertation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Study of 38 Public Universities and 28 Private Universities To Determine Faculty Emphasis on Critical Thinking In Instruction

Principal Researchers: Dr. Richard Paul, Dr. Linda Elder, and Dr. Ted Bartell

View Abstract    -    View the full study

Substantive Critical Thinking as Developed by the Foundation for Critical Thinking Proves Effective in Raising SAT and ACT Test Scores at West Side High School:  Staff Development Program Utilizes Critical Thinking Instruction to Improve Student Performance on ACT and SAT Tests, and in Critical Reading, Writing and Math Dr.   John Crook, West Side High School Principal View the Report

Teaching Critical Thinking Skills to Fourth Grade Students Identified as Gifted and Talented by Debra Connerly Graceland University - Cedar Rapids, Iowa - December 2006 View the Report

The Loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia: Portaging Leadership Lessons with a Critical Thinking Model

by Rob Niewoehner, Ph.D. U.S. Navy Graceland University - Cedar Rapids, Iowa - December 2006 View the Report

Before viewing our online resources, please seriously consider supporting our work with a financial contribution. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, we cannot do our work without your charitable gifts. We hope you will help us continue to advance fairminded critical societies across the world.

For full copies of many other critical thinking articles, books, videos, and more, join us at the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online - the world's leading online community dedicated to critical thinking!   Also featuring interactive learning activities, study groups, and even a social media component, this learning platform will change your conception of intellectual development.


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  5. Qualitative Research: Part 2



  1. What Is Analytical Research?

    Analytical research is a specific type of research that involves critical thinking skills and the evaluation of facts and information relative to the research being conducted. Research of any type is a method to discover information.

  2. When Do We Use Critical Thinking in Everyday Life?

    When an individual can determine whether a problem is under control or beyond his control and can recognize his limitations regarding money, time and power, then he is using critical thinking in everyday life.

  3. What Are Some Examples of Critical Thinking?

    Examples of critical thinking include observing, analyzing, discriminating and predicting. Critical thinkers solve problems through observation, data gathering, and reasoning. Other examples of critical thinking are applying standards and s...

  4. How to Write a Research Paper

    Research Writing ~ How to Write a Research Paper · understand the logical connections between ideas · identify, construct and evaluate arguments · detect

  5. Critical Thinking and Academic Research: Intro

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  6. 11.5 Critical Thinking and Research Applications

    Determine an appropriate organizational structure for the research paper that uses critical analysis to connect the writer's ideas and information taken from

  7. The Role of Critical Thinking in Research and Academic Writing

    Critical thinking plays a vital role in the research, ensuring its effectiveness in conveying research findings. Critical thinkers engage in

  8. What Is Critical Thinking and How Critical Thinking Improves

    This Open Access Graduate Research Paper is brought to you for free and open access by the Student Work at UNI. ScholarWorks. It has been accepted for inclusion

  9. The Art and Science of Critical Thinking in Research: A Guide to

    In research, critical thinking is essential for developing research questions, designing research studies, collecting and analyzing data, and

  10. (PDF) Students' Critical Thinking in Writing Background of Research

    book, article, or journal to make their idea rational,. good, or connect with their research. The result of the intervie

  11. (PDF) Critical Thinking and it's Importance in Education

    PDF | This study explained critical thinking skills in education processes and the importance of thinking critically for a student who

  12. How to Write a Research Paper: Critical Thinking

    How to Write a Research Paper: Critical Thinking · Understand the logical connections between ideas · Identify, construct and evaluate arguments


    This paper discusses the definition of critical thinking as it relates to a classroom from several angles, instructional methods which work

  14. Research in Critical Thinking

    Richard Paul and Rush Cosgrove. RESEARCH TITLES. Logic as Theory of Validation: An Essay in Philosophical Logic. by