Critical Analysis definition
To critically analyse means to make a judgement about the quality of evidence and include when it can and can’t support your argument.
Profession specific examples of critical analysis in writing
Examples of critical analysis based on assignments from Level 6 students in the School of Health and Social Work. These examples are for illustration only and should not be copied. Also, please note that the citations are fictitious.
Note the difference between good descriptive writing and good critical analysis.
Good descriptive writing:
- The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (2016) states that 1 in 4 women will suffer from depression compared with 1 in 10 men. There is evidence that more women are treated for mental health problems than men (National Statistics, 2014). Hussain et al. (2018) explain that symptoms normally display themselves in the same way whether a person is male or female, adding that the most common symptoms are poor mood, lethargy, poor appetite, lack of enthusiasm and poor sleep pattern.
Good critical analysis:
- It is problematic to accurately measure whether men or women experience higher rates of depression. Figures from the National Institute of Excellence (2016) and from National Statistics (2014) indicate that more women than men required treatment for mental ill health conditions, with 1 in 4 women compared to 1 in 10 men diagnosed with depression. However, this research only measured known diagnosed cases. It is possible that men find other ways of coping without professional help and remain unaccounted for in these statistics as other sources (National Statistics, 2016) indicated that 80% of people dependent upon alcohol were male. This may indicate that men use alcohol as a form of self-medication (Wong, 2018). Furthermore, Soneji et al. (2017) inform us that the male suicide rate is twice as high in the UK and six times more likely in the US compared to suicide rates for women. Arguably, social workers need to remain open to the possibility that a large proportion of male depression remains undiagnosed and untreated, that alcohol misuse might mask depression, and that depression might be a factor in male suicide.
- Muller et al. (2016) present a prospective randomised trial identifying that ECG interpretation skills within a cohort of medical students declined rapidly after initial teaching regardless of the method of teaching. A randomised trial was appropriate in this quantitative research as it is considered to be the gold standard in assessing the effects of an intervention on a sample (Jones, 2017). The sample used was a volunteer sample; this is considered a weak form of sampling as the participants are self-selected and convenient (Alonzo, 2017). The sample may also display some selection bias as the participants were offered academic reward if they completed the retention tests. This may lead to an increased uptake by students looking to achieve high grades or those currently achieving low grades who wish to improve. Therefore, the sample may not be representative of the entire student population (Ahmed et al., 2014). Selection bias is a common problem in studies where the participants are self-selecting (Baker, 2018). However, Muller et al. (2016) seek to maintain consistency in their sample by using consecutive cohorts of second-year students who would be expected to have similar levels of knowledge.