Critical Thinking - Graduate Writing Center

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Critical Thinking


Growing up, we all had that one shady friend who was always trying to pull a fast one. “You should trade me your ratty old Honus Wagner card for this super-rare G.I. Joe. My dad says it’s going to be way more valuable, plus it comes with this awesome hang glider. What do you say?”

Now, we’re not suggesting that your fellow scholars are trying to trick anyone, but we are suggesting that you’ve already practiced the skepticism that is the essence of critical thinking. “Why are you calling my baseball card ‘ratty’? How do you know your toy is more valuable? Is it really that rare? Who cares what your dad thinks? What does the hang glider have to do with anything?”

In the same way, asking questions about the arguments you encounter during your academic career is essential to figuring out where you stand on various issues—where you think the truth lies. Critical thinking is therefore critical in both senses: it’s important—the very core of academic work—and it involves critiquing ideas, both your own and those of others, figuring out what’s convincing about them, what isn’t, and why. 

Just as the natural world shapes living things, discarding adaptations that don’t work and elaborating on those that do, critical thinking shapes and refines our body of knowledge. Those ideas that can withstand continuous scrutiny endure.

To see critical thinking in action, be sure to catch our "Reading with Intent II" workshop. Workshops are offered in the first four weeks of each quarter; you can sign up during workshop season through WCOnline. See the whole workshop list here.

Alternatively, view this video of the workshop.

Need even more convincing? Check out these links—and, whatever else you do, for the love of Pete, don’t trade the Honus.
 

Critical Thinking Links

GWC - all topics list heading

All-Topics Index


The following index makes searching for a specific topic easier and links to the appropriate place in the sequenced material. We think we have most of them, but please email us at writingcenter@nps.edu if we are missing something!

A-Z content menu

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

A

abbreviations

abstracts

academic writing

acronyms

active voice

advisor, selecting and working with

apostrophes

appointment with GWC coaches, how to schedule

argument

article usage

assignments, understanding them

audience

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B

body paragraphs

brackets, square

brainstorming

building better sentences tips

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C

capitalization

citations

citation software

citation styles

clauses

clarity

clustering

coaching, about

coaching, how to schedule

colons

comma splices

commas, FANBOYS

commas, introductory

commas, list

commas, nonessential / nonrestrictive information

commas, Oxford

commas, serial

commonly confused words 

compare-and-contrast papers 

concision

conclusions

conjunctive adverbs

coordinating conjunctions

copyright and fair use

critical thinking  

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D

dangling modifiers

dashes

dependent clauses

dependent marker words

display equations

double submission of coursework

drafting

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E

editing your own work

editing: outside editors

em dash

en dash

exclamation points

executive summary

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F

FANBOYS

FAQs

first person, use of in academic writing

footnotes

fragments

free-writing

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G

gerunds

grammar

group writing

GWC appointment, how to schedule

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H

homophones

hyphens

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I

ibid.

incomplete sentences

independent clauses

introductions

iThenticate

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J

Joining the Academic Conversation

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L

LaTeX

library liaisons

lists, syntax of

literature reviews 

logic and analysis 

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M

making a GWC appointment

mathematics

memos

methodologies

misplaced modifiers

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N

nominalizations

note-taking

noun clusters

numbers

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O

organization

outlining

Oxford comma

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P

paragraph development 

parallelism

paraphrasing

parentheses

parts of speech

passive voice

periods

persuasion

phrases vs. clauses

plagiarism, how to avoid

plagiarism-detection software

plain language

polishing

prepositional phrases 

prepositions

pronouns

publishing

punctuation

purpose of research

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Q

questions

quotation marks 

quoting

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R

reading with intent

redundancies                                                                

reference software

reflection papers 

research

research questions

reusing papers

reverse outlining

revision

roadmaps                                            

run-on sentences 

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S

scheduling a GWC appointment

self-citing

semicolons

sentence fragments

serial comma

signal phrases

significance

so what?

sources, engaging with / critiquing

sources, evaluating the reliability of

sources, citing

spelling

standard essay structure

STEM / technical writing 

style

subject–verb agreement

subjects, grammatical

subordinating conjunctions

summarizing

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T

technical writing

that vs. which

thesis writing

thesis advisor, selecting and working with

thesis process overview

thesis process tips

thesis proposals – common elements                                                     

thesis statements

this, that, these, those

tone, professional

topic sentences 

transitions

types of papers

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U

United States or U.S.?

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V

verbs and verb tense

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W

which vs. that

Why write?

writer’s block 

writing process

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Z

Zotero

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