Academic Research Skills: Critical Reading and Writing

As a postgraduate student, there are many skills that you need to master in order to get excellent results. Depending on your background, education and experience, you may have countered some of them before. Skills such as time management, note taking, critical reading and writing, oral presentations to name but a few of the key points that you need to consider. I will use the same words that I found in one of the best books that I read in this area:

“To complete a Master’s dissertation, you require a combination of generic skills (time-management, organizational, self-discipline, communication, listening, presentational, social, technical, independent learner skills) and personal qualities (self-motivation, self-confidence, and self-centeredness), as well as skills specific to dissertation-writing (submitting a realistic research proposal, writing a Literature Review, proper citing of sources, etc.). John Biggam in his book “Succeeding with your Master’s Dissertation: A Step-by-Step Handbook “.

 This is my first article in a series of articles about academic reading and writing. I am not an expert in that. Conversely, when I first encountered this topic in my masters’ degree in the UK and realized that I was coming from a different educational system, where students are assessed based on exams rather than based on conducting an academic research, I decided to take serious actions in order to tackle this area and excel in it. Proudly, I can say that I succeeded. I managed to get the highest average score among more than 800 students in my school. Not only that, but also I converted my masters’ dissertation into a paper that got accepted to be published in an international scientific journal; a process where my paper went through a Double-Blind Peer Review. Therefore, I am going to share my experience in a series of articles about this topic.

In this blog, I will write about one of the first resources and the best books that helped me in this area which is Critical Reading and Writing for Postgraduates.

How to be a Critical Reader and Self-Critical Writer?

critical reading and writingThe book starts by teaching you how to be a critical reader and a self-critical writer. It is a dual-task where you learn how to apply different critical reading skills when evaluating others’ publications, as well as how to critically evaluating your writings to make sure that you have developed a well- balanced argument. The book also teaches you about the different sources of literature that you may use in your research (theoretical, research, practice and policy) and how to use them in effectively. Most importantly, the book has a lot of examples on how to apply the above points rather than just listing some theories for critical reading and writing.

It is not the kind of book that you read once. In my experience, I had to read the book several times and at several stages during my study.

Critical thinking is a practice that we do everyday unintentionally, but the book will help you to structure that process in a way that will help you to develop and express better arguments in your research.


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