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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  If you need to engage with published (or unpublished) literature such as essays, dissertations or theses, research papers or oral presentations, this proven guide helps you develop a reflective and advanced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


Study Skills hub
Visit our hub for free academic skills, wellbeing and employability resources from our new and bestselling guides, designed to support you from day one all the way through to graduation and beyond.
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

Should make a great contribution to the postgrad reading list

Dr David Beck
Health & Society, Salford University
October 12, 2023

I highly recommend this book! It serves as a comprehensive guide to critical analysis. It is a step by step guide though the processes of reading and evaluating research, to developing and applying your arguments, while aiding in structuring your work at post graduate level. The authors have presented the content in a manner that is easily understandable. The layout of the book is well-structured, ensuring it is not overwhelming or cumbersome to read. Its supplementary online materials further aids the readers thoughts and approach. It also provides worked examples and commentaries to develop the readers argument.

Ms Charlotte Bone
Nursing, BPP University (Waterloo Campus)
November 5, 2023

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

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1: What it means to be critical

Mike Wallace

Mike Wallace is a Professor of Public Management at Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, where he teaches postgraduate courses on research methods. He was formerly an Associate Director of the Advanced Institute of Management Research (AIM), responsible for research capacity building in the management field, and also the Economic and Social Research Council’s Strategic Adviser for Researcher Development. His research on managing change in the public services is reported in many books and academic journals. Most recently, he is lead author of a major monograph Developing Public Service Leaders: Elite Orchestration, Change Agency,... More About Author

Alison Wray

Alison Wray is a Research Professor of Language and Communication at Cardiff University. Her research concerns the modelling of lexical storage and processing, particularly in relation to formulaic phrases, and it has been applied to language learning, evolution of language and language disability. Her two monographs Formulaic Language and the Lexicon (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and Formulaic Language: Pushing the Boundaries (Oxford University Press, 2008) are internationally acclaimed. Her current research focusses on dementia communication. Her 2020 book The Dynamics of Dementia Communication won the 2021 book prize of the British... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781529727647
ISBN: 9781529727654