Critical evaluation and analysis are some of the most important things you learn in your undergrad/post-grad programs. For when you critically analyse a topic, you get a chance to approach it from different perspectives. Critical evaluation contributes to a more holistic academic development. It also encourages young academicians to expand their understanding and try to look at the text/topic from a different viewpoint.
Writing a critical evaluation essay is not a simple task. It requires meticulous planning and hours of reading and research. Here is a stepwise guide to help students write a detailed critical evaluation essay.
Step 1: Find your niche
First things first, you need a topic to write on. Now, in most universities, the professor already has a list of topics for you to choose from. Pick a topic that appeals the most to you. However, I recommend students to also opt for relatively easier topics that wouldn’t take up a lot of your time or effort. Remember, you have a deadline to meet as well.
There are three main parameters when it comes to finding a good topic for writing a critical evaluation essay:
- scope for research and critical analysis
- easy and time-effective
- interesting and engaging
A critical evaluation essay gives you the space to go beyond the existing research and add your thoughts/opinions on the subject matter. It is a good medium to exercise your critical thinking skills and further extend or expand upon the work already done to find some new revelations.
Step 2: Read up on the existing research
No research paper or essay can ever be written in isolation. You need to read up on all the work that has already been done in your field of study. The academic community is ever growing, and it is important to be aware of the updates and changes made in your subject area before you venture into the topic.
Browsing through the existing research also reduces the chances of you accidently plagiarising someone else’s work. If you have a seemingly new idea, chances are, someone must have already thought of it and written a paper on it. You can borrow from their research and build up on it to prove or disprove your stance on the topic.
Critical evaluation is all about collecting different perspectives on the topic and then developing your arguments from them.
Step 3: Collect relevant data
Data collection is a mandatory step in any piece of academic writing irrespective of your field of study. You cannot make claims in thin air without substantiating it with ample proof and data.
The existing research, contemporary studies, surveys, experiments etc. are a part of the data collection process. I often suggest students prepare a working bibliography during this process. It helps you keep track of the primary and secondary sources referred to in your paper.
Step 4: Sort through the information
Reading up for a specific topic is an on-going process. However, not everything that you read will be used in your paper. You need to sort through the information and find what is relevant to your subject.
The length of the essay also determines how in-depth you can go with the research. A critical evaluation essay usually stretches up to 1500-2000 words. You need to pick and choose from the different sources, studies, and statistics available.
This is where proper planning comes into play. You need to first list down the main aspects or sections of the research subject. Find your niche, an area of specialization and stick to it. Also, consult your professors or peers on the specific areas that need more elaboration or discussion depending on your coursework.
Step 5: Analyse the available resources
Once you have a fair idea about what to include, you can plan out a rough blueprint of the essay. The first draft usually covers the main pointers of the topic. Here, you can talk about the context, background information and existing research in the subject field.
I often advise my students to work on the body of the essay first and then move on to write the abstract. The body of the article would contain your central arguments, sources, theories, and concepts used to prove or disprove the hypothesis.
Step 6: Structuring the essay
After you have all your facts in place, you can begin to work on actually writing the essay. Now, academic writing is different from any other piece of work you’ve written earlier. For starters, the language is more polished and formal. This doesn’t mean that you cannot use first person pronouns or conversational language.
Academic writing, as defined by linguistics, is a way to effectively communicate your research to the reader. It is less about wanting to appear intellectual and more about discussing your research in a way that is readable and engaging for anyone reading it.
Every essay follows a set structure- an introduction, the body, and a conclusion. The introduction paragraph sets the background of the research topic. The main body is where you discuss the existing research and expand upon it to state your arguments. And in the concluding paragraph, you discuss the scope of the subject matter.
Step 7: Proofread like a pro
Simply writing an essay is not the end of the job. The real work begins when you revisit the essay to proofread it. A simple tip that I offer my readers is- write first edit later. In fact, this is something even Natalie Goldberg talks about in her “golden rules of writing” handbook wherein she discusses various tips for young writers who want to improve their skills.
Proofreading is a tough job and requires meticulous planning. Of course, there are several proofreading platforms like Grammarly and Hemingway that highlights the typos and grammatical errors in the essay.
I would still recommend students to manually proofread their essays as well for structural and factual errors. Or if you are running out of time then you can outsource this to assignment experts who can proofread your content for you.
Step 8: Citations and bibliography
Citations help you identify and refer to the source texts, journals and research papers you have used or borrowed from in your essay. There are different ways you can cite your sources depending on the subject matter and field of research.
For instance, APA in-text referencing is suited to scientific or stat-based papers. And MLA referencing is ideal for theory-based papers, literature reviews and detailed dissertations. If you are using in-text referencing, ensure that you add a reference list towards the end of the paper wherein you expand on the citations.
Also, after the conclusion, an annotated bibliography is mandatory. And if you want some extra brownie points, feel free to add little footnotes and annotations with each research material you are adding in the bibliography.
Quick Links And References
So, there you have it- writing a critical evaluation essay is not all that tough, provided you know what to write and how to structure your arguments. The bottom line is, you need to do your research, have an open mind and keep your essay as unbiased as possible. Try to include all aspects of the topic and the multiple perspectives that you can find in your reading or research process.
Citethisforme = Citation generator
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