CM105Chapter3 - 4369_04_ch3_p018-024 3/1/04 5:38 AM Page 18...

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18 CHAPTER 3 Critical Thinking— The Ultimate Goal of Academic Writing Some emerging writers find the transition from high school writing to college-level writing a bit awkward or unexpected. Frequently, the impression is that college composition is like writing a book report or a paper about the solar system. This is partially true. Academic writing always involves using books, periodicals, journals, and elec- tronic publications, and you are required to support your findings with these sources. The common misconception is that writing is simply reading what others have to say about a topic and reporting that to the reader. This is only one way of writing. Informative pa- pers are certainly a good starting point, but they are only the build- ing blocks of more sophisticated modes of writing. When you begin to write in a way that goes beyond merely restating what others have already said, you are thinking critically about the topic at hand. Critical Thinking: What Is It? Critical thinking refers to examining multiple sides of an issue and closely investigating all possibilities. It is rather simple to repeat the ideas of others or to compose an essay that contains a collage of quotes from outside sources. The difficult part is to lay aside per- sonal prejudice and to begin thinking beyond the obvious. Eventu- ally, critical thinking becomes a natural part of every stage of your writing process. Prewriting and research are conducted more mind- fully, and drafting becomes a process of adding your ideas to the conversation started by previously published articles (see 1a(2) , “Joining the Conversation”). You become proactive in your writing and thinking. (1) Thinking Critically about Sources An effective paper is always the result of careful research. In addition to finding sources that are reputable, current, and appropriate, it is important that you actively read your sources. Not everyone with an M.D., a Ph.D., or any other combination of letters after his or her name is infallible. As a responsible academic writer, you need to look for signs of bias, flawed logic, misinformation, generalizations, or anything else that would weaken the integrity of a given source. 3a 4369_04_ch3_p018-024 3/1/04 5:38 AM Page 18
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Critical Thinking: What Is It? 19 3a A close examination of an article is not disrespectful or antagonis- tic; rather, it indicates that you are not passively accepting what is being said. The burden of convincing you of a given perspective is on the author. When you find a gap in a writer’s argument, you have found a place for you to insert your ideas. What the author does not say is just as important as what he or she chooses to include. A Closer Look: Questions for Critically
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CM105Chapter3 - 4369_04_ch3_p018-024 3/1/04 5:38 AM Page 18...

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