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Critical Reading and Writing for Postgraduates

Critical Reading and Writing for Postgraduates

Fourth Edition
Additional resources:

April 2021 | 320 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Reading critically, and writing using critical techniques, are crucial skills you need to apply to your academic work.  If you need to engage with published (or unpublished) literature such as essays, dissertations or theses, research papers or oral presentations, this proven guide helps you develop a reflective and advanced critical approach to your research and writing.

New to this edition:

  • Two new chapters on basic and advanced writing skills
  • More advice on self-bias and perception
  • Updates and additional examples throughout
  • Updated online resources providing additional support.

A Companion Website provides additional resources to help you apply the critical techniques you learn.  From templates and checklists, access to SAGE journal articles and additional case studies, these free resources will make sure you successfully master advanced critical skills.

Student Success is a series of essential guides for students of all levels. From how to think critically and write great essays to boosting your employability and managing your wellbeing, the Student Success series helps you study smarter and get the best from your time at university. 

Part One: Becoming a Critical Reader and Self-Critical Writer
Chapter 1: What it Means to be Critical
Chapter 2: Making a Critical Choice
Chapter 3: A First Look: Interrogating Abstracts
Chapter 4: Getting Started on Critical Reading
Chapter 5: Getting Started on Self-Critical Writing
Chapter 6: Creating a Comparative Critical Summary
Chapter 7: Developing Your Writing Skills to Communicate Effectively
Part Two: Developing an In-Depth Analysis
Chapter 8: A Mental Map for Navigating the Literature
Chapter 9: Tools for Thinking and Ways of Thinking
Chapter 10: Reasons for Conducting the Research
Chapter 11: Knowledge Claims and Their Key Characteristics
Chapter 12: Developing a Critical Analysis of a Text
Chapter 13: A Worked Example of a Critical Analysis
Chapter 14: Developing Your Argument in Writing a Critical Review of a Text
Part Three: Putting Your Critical Reviews to Work
Chapter 15: Focusing and Building up your Critical Literature Review
Chapter 16: Integrating Critical Literature Reviews into your Dissertation
Chapter 17: Critical Literature Reviews in Alternative Dissertation Structures
Chapter 18: Tools for Structuring a Dissertation
Chapter 19: Using the Literature in Research Papers, Oral Presentations and Posters
Chapter 20: Developing Advanced Writing Skills


Sage Study Skills hub
Visit the Sage Study Skills hub for tips, resources and videos on study success!
Critical Writing Webinar
Watch the recording of Critical Reading and Self-critical Writing for Postgraduates with Mike Wallace and Alison Wray. In this webinar, hosted by JS Group, they explain why a critical literature review is vital to excel in your dissertation or thesis and how to construct a strong, evidence-based argument to support your claims

This book provided invaluable practical help for me in both organising my approach to research and in writing my thesis. A real strength of the book is that it backs up the various approaches it suggests with worked examples of all the points madeAs a result, I saw a genuine and marked improvement in the quality of my own writing.

Stephen Cutler
PhD Student, Cardiff University

A comprehensive and sharp guide to taking your reading, writing, and thinking to the next level. The authors do not only explain the concepts they bring forward, but also show what it can look like in a text. It makes everything much easier to understand!

The tools in the book have helped me a lot! This book taught me how to logically structure a piece of work before even starting to write it, which, in my case, took away lots of stress, and made my work much easier to follow. I strongly recommend reading this book!

Axel Bergström
PhD Student, Language and Communication Research, Cardiff University

The best research-skills support I have encountered for social-sciences postgrads. It not only breaks down the anatomy of a research project in detail and with practical examples, but also illuminates theoretical issues such as author bias and reader response. 

This book is invaluable, and I find myself turning back to it frequently as I reach the next stage of a project. It will always have a place on my desk!

Bethan Tovey-Walsh
3rd year PhD Student, Applied Linguistics and Welsh, Swansea University

A must-read for any student looking to develop their reading and writing skills at research level. It delves into how students can develop their critical thinking and research skills before tackling their writing woes. Wallace and Wray will become personal tutors, offering an array of academic knowledge through writing exercises in which students can apply in their research directly. It is one of the few books on the market written with the student in mind, and one in which effectively identifies the steps needed to write a research paper, dissertation, and/or thesis.

Tamara Tarchichi
2nd year PhD Student, Language and Communication, Cardiff University

Very accessible guide. Covers everything

Dr Lee Coutts
School of Education, Strathclyde University
February 2, 2022

A good text which guides post-graduate nursing students well in the art of critical reading and writing. Some students doing post-graduate studies are not very aware of the critical nature of nursing care and academia. I will definitely be recommending this text to my students.

Mr Thomas Beary
Nursing, Hertfordshire University
March 28, 2022

A useful guide to critical writing aimed at postgraduates. I have recommended it to my cohort

Ms Samantha Eason
Higher Education and Teacher Training, Darlington College
November 30, 2022

Critical writing is an enigmatic topic for many students, yet they know they need to be critical to succeed. This is a comprehensive, well laid out, text that I shall be recommending to all my MSc students.

Mrs Helen Adamson
Newcastle Business School, Newcastle University
February 18, 2022

Suitable for the MSc Criminology Risk and Safeguarding. Leveling up to L7 writing.

Mrs Linda Moses-Allison
University of Cumbria, University of Cumbria
November 23, 2022

A very useful text for those aiming to understand criticality and critical approaches to writing.

Dr Louise Campbell
School of Education & Social Work, Dundee University
June 1, 2021

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1: What it means to be critical

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ISBN: 9781529727647
ISBN: 9781529727654

Help your students build critical thinking skills