Preparing for successful academic writing
2.5 Assessing expert claims
Understanding the current debates in your field will require you to critically analyse other people's research. You will need to assess if the claims that are being made follow a clear line of reasoning.
We all think critically about issues in our everyday lives, for instance, when deciding who or what to vote for, which book to buy, or whether to believe the news headlines. However, we may sometimes lack the confidence to challenge the assumptions made by people we consider to be experts.
Believe it or not
Take a look at the following claims and decide whether they are true or false.
Claim 1: Sugar is the major contributor to hyperactivity in children
Consumption of foods high in glucose can lead to extremely energetic behaviour in children and has been reported as the leading cause of hyperactivity.
Claim 2: Replacing sugary drinks with water or milk in childhood decreases the likelihood of developing obesity in adolescence
The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among children is associated with long-term body fatness. Replacing those sugary drinks with water or milk is inversely associated with body fatness development.
Claim 3: Individuals learn best when taught in their preferred learning style
People have different learning styles and preferences. The best and most efficient learning is therefore achieved when individuals are specifically taught in their preferred learning style.
Claim 4: Organically produced food is pesticide-free and of higher nutritional value than regular products
Because organic food is not treated with any pesticides or other chemicals, it is naturally healthier and more nutritious.
Claim 5: Consumption of antioxidant supplements is good for your health
Free radicals building up in the body as by-products of metabolism cause cellular damage. Since antioxidants neutralise these free radicals, taking antioxidant supplements is beneficial for human health.
Did you believe something that wasn't true?
Don't worry, it's not uncommon for us to think that some of the things we hear and read are logical and reasonable without asking further questions. However, in the academic environment, this can lead to weak reasoning and poor marks in your assignments. You'll therefore need to learn to approach your studies with an open mind and a critical thinking attitude.