Writing critically

An important part of university assessments is your ability to write critically. Writing critically is more than just summarising facts – it involves actively analysing information, questioning assumptions, forming arguments, and linking knowledge to different contexts. The elements of critical writing tie into each other, so it is helpful to consider if you have addressed and included each one in your writing.

In brief, writing critically requires you to:


Bias in writing occurs when the author’s personal beliefs, values, or opinions influence how information is presented, leading to an unbalanced representation of a subject or issue. While all information is inherently biased, there is a difference between unconscious and deliberate bias.

When writing, it is important to acknowledge both your own biases and the biases in whatever you are analysing and citing.

Bias in writing can look like:

  • Confirmation bias – choosing evidence or data that supports a specific viewpoint while ignoring conflicting information.
  • Generalisations – making broad statements that claim to be true in all cases when the statement is only true in some cases. This includes sweeping assumptions (e.g. “AI will replace all jobs”) and stereotypes (e.g., “Canadians are polite”)
  • Cultural bias – when a writer favours one culture over another, leading to an unbalanced representation of perspectives. This often happens unintentionally, as your ideas may reflect the culture you are in.
  • Political bias – when a writer’s political beliefs influence the presentation of information, leading to a one-sided or skewed argument. This could include emphasising a political stance; unfair, emotional statements about opposing factions; or dismissing contrary evidence without analysis or discussion.
  • Gender bias – favouring one gender over another, leading to unequal representation or stereotypical portrayals - for example, a research paper discussing leadership qualities that consistently uses male pronouns when referring to leaders.

Further information about critically evaluating sources can be found in the Critical thinking module.

To avoid bias in your writing, do the following:

  • Acknowledge counterarguments by addressing opposing viewpoints or counterarguments.
  • Avoid emotive language such as appalling, destroyed, angrily, persevered, heartwarming, deranged, irresponsible, ugly, etc.
  • Avoid loaded language by considering different meanings or connotations attached to words, such as riot vs protest, asylum seeker vs illegal immigrant, etc.
  • Be aware of your own biases and perspectives – you may be more prone to some ideas over others. View the Critical thinking module for more information on assessing your own personal biases.

Forming arguments

In academic writing, an ‘argument’ is your stance, view or conclusion on a topic. It is a group of statements supported and explained by evidence. To create a strong argument, you should:

  1. Create an outline that organises your ideas logically. This helps ensure that each point supports and reinforces your main thesis. You can do this using our draft assignment planner [DOCX, 34kB]). It may help to start broad and become more specific as you progress.
  2. Lay out supporting evidence for each idea or point you are making. Do you have enough evidence to support your points fully? Do you have evidence from multiple sources?
  3. Provide analysis and interpretation of the evidence. Strong arguments go beyond simply presenting facts.

Critiquing research

Content coming soon.


Critical writing involves comparing arguments and points of view. Your writing will be stronger when you acknowledge conflicting opinions, as it demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the topic and strengthens the credibility of your argument.

Strategies to address counterarguments include:

  • Acknowledge the existence of counterarguments and show respect for differing perspectives.
  • Use concessive statements acknowledging validity, e.g., “While it is true that…”
  • Counter each counterargument with relevant evidence and thorough analysis. Demonstrate why your position remains stronger or more supported by the available evidence.
  • Highlight weaknesses in counterarguments by identifying weaknesses, flaws or limitations.
  • Proactively address any potential counterarguments before they are presented by integrating them into your argument and offering responses

For tips on smoothly incorporating counterarguments and differences into our writing, visit the academic style section on transition phrases.