Is there a friend in your group who is constantly critical of everything, whether it’s a movie, a book, or general conversation? Well… what your friend is doing is called critical thinking. Perhaps your friend is overdoing it a bit 😂, but critical thinking is necessary for individual growth in academia.
Now, what is the relationship between critical thinking and a critical analysis? If you are critical of everything around you, that is called having a critical mindset. Whereas if you read a book, an article, a movie, a play, or even a piece of art and analyze it, critically, well, that is critical analysis. The term critical here “expresses or involves an analysis of the merits and faults of a work of literature, music, or art” (Oxford Languages).
Critical analysis is generally used in academia to denote the process of critically analyzing an author’s work and giving your opinion. The style of the essay or paper that you are writing depends on type of essay that you want to write. If you are interested in expressing your opinion on a subject matter, you may want to start writing a critical analysis.
What is a critical analysis essay?
To write a critical analysis, the writer needs to write a critical assessment of an argument. The analyzed material can vary from a book, an article, a film, a historic event, a political scenario, etc. You have to evaluate and observe your subject with a critical point of view and give your honest feedback.
Writing critical essays means writing a paper where you give your analysis of the given author’s work critically and give relevant supporting arguments in favor of your viewpoint (critical essays or analysis papers involve a degree of subjective writing). Usually, this work consists of piece of literature, a book, an article, a memoir, or something similar. Having this said, it is not necessarily limited to literature as you could also be asked to analyze a film or a piece of artwork.
Now the question arises: how is this type of analysis helpful for researchers / students? The exercise is meant to develop your critical thinking abilities, shapes your opinion, and sharpen your analytical skills. It also helps boost your writing skills.
Critical writing steps – main ideas
To write an excellent critical analysis, you should read the material that you will use to support your argument. Identify the author’s thesis and curate it in your work to give a clearer perspective. Analyze the piece from a multi-perspective point of view with a more open-minded approach.
Another essential aspect to consider is that you shouldn’t be offensive in your tone. Remember, this is your viewpoint; others may have a different approach to the subject, so don’t adopt a harsh writing tone. Give your analysis whilst keeping in mind that your reader may have a different opinion on the matter.
Your analysis should be fair and not biased. Don’t go overboard with the criticism, and do not put false or unnecessary arguments to prove your point.
Here we break down the process into eight steps that you can follow to perform a critical analysis.
- Critical reading
The first step to writing is to read, go through the piece carefully and curate the point you want to discuss in your essay. Go through the sources that supports or opposes the author’s views; this will help you understand different viewpoints about the work you have to write the critical analysis. Be sure to understand the piece fully before you start writing. Remember that in order to write a relevant commentary, you have to read carefully first.
- Identify the thesis of the author.
Choose a theory around which you can weave your analysis. In your thesis, you should refer to the author’s point of view. Then you should present a perspective that you can back up with evidence and present facts.
- Use a hook statement.
If you start with a remarkable statement, by using statistics, a bold statement, an exciting scenario, or a hypothetical situation, you will succeed in grabbing the reader’s attention from the start. After grasping the reader’s attention, you should include the introduction of the work you are analyzing. Mention the name of the piece, the author, and the thesis statement.
- Structure the body of your essay.
Once you’ve captivated the reader with a “hook statement”, write the body of your analysis. Draft your essay by including an overview and the key points of your subject. Now, like any other writing piece, gradually build your narrative. Build a progressive approach in which you build your case carefully where each point is interlinked to the subsequent point. This will enable you to take the reader along with you on your journey in a noninterrupted flow.
- Divide the body of the essay into subheadings.
Break the body of your analysis into subheadings, this will give the reader a clean and neat look, and your piece will be more readable. Remember, the writing needs to keep a certain flow, and the flow should not be broken.
- Give relevant evidence/supporting reference.
Wherever suitable, remember to give relevant evidence and references. You may also use footnotes and endnotes if necessary. It will give your argument weightage and authenticity.
- Conclude with a summary of your piece.
Finally, conclude your writing with a summary of your essay. It should include the critical points that you have discussed above.
It should be concise and crisp so that your reader can recall the main points that you have highlighted.
- Read your writing critically after some time.
After you have completed your analysis, take a break for some time and proofread your piece critically. It will help you evaluate your writing from the perspective of a reader. And make the changes accordingly. You will also get a new view of the writing if you visit it after some time.
Some important tips & main ideas
Describe in detail.
You must write in detail your opinion about the writing/piece. Always define the technical terms and abbreviations fully.
Get it proofread by someone else.
After completing your essay, ask someone to analyze your work critically. This way, you will get neutral and honest feedback from a reader’s perspective.
Write in your style.
Always write in your own style. Your writing should not contain the author’s shadow; instead, it should reflect your identity and style. Never adopt the writing style of the author that you are analyzing.
Do not hesitate in putting up your viewpoint.
When writing a critical analysis, do not shy away from putting your opinion out there, don’t be diplomatic or vague about your idea.
Don’t be too harsh.
Use a respectful tone while giving voice to your thoughts. Remember, this is your opinion, and people may have a different view than you.
Use formal language/wording.
It would be best to use formal language and a formal tone when it comes to academic writing, and writing a critical analysis is not an exception.
Back your viewpoint with references and evidence.
Quote the supporting evidence and references in favor of your argument. It will portray you as a reliable analyst in the reader’s mind.