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Facing your first assignment can be a daunting prospect particularly if you haven't been in an academic setting for a while. Don't worry, library staff are here to help. Below are some points to consider and some links to help you get started. If you have any questions or would like further instruction then do not hesitate to reach out to library staff - please contact us here.

Contextualise your research

Academic research is all about critical thinking. Two skills you need when researching are: 

  • Capacity to evaluate what you read
  • Capacity to relate what you have read to other information

Do not read academic works as you would fiction. Start by reading the conclusion. Typically the author presents a finding and supports it with evidence. As such make sure you clearly understand what the author claims to have discovered. When you read the rest of the article think critically about whether their points are valid and if the evidence supports the findings. Also consider how the research fit in with other relevant articles.

Criteria to consider when reviewing sources
You are expected to consult multiple sources of information and to show evidence of wide critical reading. In doing so, you need to exercise critical judgement. This means identifying relevant experts and theories and judging the value of their research in relation to your own. Some questions to consider when reading sources of information:

  • Why am I reading this?
  • What is the author trying to argue by writing this?
  • What is the author saying that is relevant to my needs?
  • How convincing is the author's argument?
  • What use can I make of the reading?
  • Does this reading support or contradict my argument?

Critical Thinking - 6 tips to get you started

Our short video tells you in less than a minute how to apply critical thinking to sources.