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Academic Writing

Information designed to assist students in identifying different types of academic writing, and the purpose behind each.

Critical Analysis Diagram (text only to the right of the image)

A diagram showing the basic structure of a critical essay.

A. Introduction - The introduction moves from general to specific. This is where you are:

  1. open with a short orientation (introduce the topic area(s) with a general, broad opening sentence (or two);

  2. answer the question with a thesis statement; and 

  3. provide a summary or 'road map' of your essay (keep it brief, but mention all the main ideas).

B. Body - The body of the essay consists of paragraphs. Each is a building block in the construction of your argument. The body is where you:

  1. answer the question by developing a discussion.
  2. show your knowledge and grasp of material you have read.
  3. offer exposition and evidence to develop your argument.
  4. use relevant examples and authoritative quotes.

If your question has more than one part, structure the body into section that deal with each part of the question.

3. Conclusion - The conclusion moves from specific to general. It should:

  1. restate your answer to the question;
  2. re-summarize the main points and;
  3. include a final, broad statement (about possible implication, future directions for research, to qualify the conclusion, etc.)

However, NEVER introduce new information or idea in the conclusion - its purpose is to round off your essay by summing up.

Because each section of a critical analysis builds on the section before it and supports the section to follow, the structure of this genre is usually fairly standard.  The introduction and summary set the stage and the analysis communicates the critic's views which are then summarized and restated in the conclusion. 

-- Text taken from The University of New South Wales. "Essay Writing: the Basics." Retrieved 17 August, 2012 from


Writing critically requires an author to engage on an analytical level with a written work, whether it is an article, a book, or a portion of a book.  In other words, to write critically is to present and explain an idea that one has had about someone else’s written work.  A critical analysis may  include supportive references like you would find in a research paper, but will generally have a much stronger emphasis on its author’s interpretation than you would find in an objective research paper. 

Elements of the Critical Analysis

Introduction – will include general information about the work being analyzed and a statement of the critical writer’s viewpoint or evaluation of the larger work. 

Summarization – the thematic/background information that a reader will need to understand the critic’s analysis and the key point from the original work that is being addressed. 

Critical Analysis – a review of the original author’s argument within the critical context of the analysis, with supporting evidence from the original text.

Conclusion – a restatement of the critic’s thesis and the key points of the analysis.

Useful Link: Reading & Writing Critically

Although the page linked below focuses on writing critically, it also features information on reading critically, an invaluable skill in identfying different types of academic writing.