The Critical Thinking Paper – The Critical Thinking Paper is an argumentative

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The Critical Thinking Paper –
The Critical Thinking Paper is an argumentative essay using the process of thinking
critically about the themes and topics presented in the course to develop a clear and
cohesive position on a specific issue. This essay is limited to 500-550 words total.

Critical Thinking Paper Requirements

1. Must use the required Critical Thinking Paper format (four sub-headings:
Introduction, Analysis, Evaluation, and Conclusion).

2. Total word count must be 500-550 words exactly with 425± 25 words in the
Analysis section. This word count is precise, and you will be docked points if
your paper is even one word below or above these word counts.

3. Must use a minimum of FOUR books and/or peer-reviewed journal articles.

4. Must use parenthetical citations with the following format:
(Friedman, 2008; p. 16) or “As noted by Friedman (2008; p 16), …”

5. Must use APA or MLA format for complete Bibliography at the end of your paper
with alphabetized entries and access dates for any websites.
• Choose your sources carefully and integrate your citation into your writing
• Good Critical Thinking Papers will briefly outline the topic, analyze it, and then draw strong
conclusions supported by clear arguments.


For the Critical Thinking Paper, you will use the following sub-headings to structure your
essay into four parts. Each sub-heading is described below (Introduction, Analysis,
Evaluation, and Conclusion). The bulk of your writing will be in the Analysis section.


The goal of this section is to convey to your audience the meaning of your topic,
its significance, and how your paper will clarify and elucidate the issue. It might
be helpful to attempt to write this section in three concise sentences: the first
clarifying the topic, the second justifying why it is worthy of attention, and the
third acting as a thesis statement (a concise explanation of your side of the

Condensed to its bones: Introduce the topic, connect your topic to the broader
themes of the course, and present a clear argument (thesis statement).

Analysis (425 ± 25 words)

The Analysis section is the longest part of your paper. This is where you develop
and explain your overall argument. Start by re-stating your thesis statement (not
repeated word for word from the introduction, but reworded) and then explain
how each supporting argument informs your overall position. Consider writing
one paragraph for each supporting argument, using your research to back up your
position. Be sure to provide logical transitions from one idea to the next,
elucidating your train of thought, if necessary.

Condensed to its bones: Develop and explain your argument using only facts
that support your specific argument. Connect your supporting arguments back to
your broader thesis statement. This is the largest component of your paper.


This section provides an opportunity to point out any of your biases or the biases
that might exist in the studies, experiments, or statistical analyses of the research
that you cite. Discuss the possible impact that these biases have on your
conclusions. Use this section to think critically about your own position and thesis
statement. It is not sufficient to write that the sources were all taken from
academic journals and are therefore valid.

Condensed to its bones: Identify bias in the arguments of at least two sources
that you are using [be very specific about both authors and biases]. You can think
of “bias” as the limitations of a particular journal article or book. Identify your
own bias from your upbringing, education, and peers. Learn to recognize yours
and how it applies to this topic. “I’m rich and from a rich country” won’t cut it
here. Where does your bias come from?


In this section, you will summarize your thesis statement and discuss how your
position and this topic connect to the themes of this course and have broader
consequences. Highlight for the reader why this topic matters. It may be helpful to
think in terms of scales; if your issue is on a local scale, what might the effects be
on a national, international, or global scale? As another example, if your essay
focuses on effects of an issue to natural systems, consider how this issue might
affect human populations or vice versa.
Condensed to its bones: Summarize your overall argument and make the
connection to its broader impact and importance. Why does this topic matter?
Wrap up your arguments and conclude.

Critical Thinking Paper Content Guidelines

1. Word length:
• All Critical Thinking Papers must be 500-550 words with 425 ± 25 words
in the Analysis section.

2. Best writing practices for argumentative essays:
• Adhere to best writing practices (e.g. grammar, sentence structure)
throughout your essay. Do not use contractions (e.g. don’t).
• These Critical Thinking paper will not cover both sides of an issue. Some
would call them “Position” papers. Take sides–always title your paper
with either a declaratory statement, or a question. For example: Your
broad topic is “Water Resources.” Your title could be “Cloud Seeding is
Essential to Maintain a Steady Supply of Water” (This title could actually
be argued either way, i.e. Cloud seeding is good OR cloud seeding
involves chemical additions to the atmosphere)
• To write concisely, glance at your paper’s title after writing each sentence.
Does it fit, is it necessary, can it be written more effectively as a shorter

3. Citations:
• Every quote, fact, or idea taken from an outside source needs to be cited.
• Cite a minimum of FOUR sources from the 21st century, using any
combination of 1) any book or 2) any peer-reviewed journal.
➢ What is a Peer-Reviewed Journal? The HCC Library describes
how to identify a peer-reviewed journal: “Peer-reviewed journals
can be identified in several different ways: Journals identify
themselves as peer-reviewed (in the small print describing who
they are in each issue, or on the publisher’s website about the
journal). You can also do a search in several databases such as
Academic Search Premier and limit your results to “Scholarly” or
• Use parenthetical citations in the following format:
(Friedman 2008; p. 16) after the cited information, or “According
to Friedman (2008; p. 16),…”
• Direct quotes must be in quote marks. NO MORE THAN 10% OF YOUR
• Other sources are OK in addition to the four sources from books and/or
peer-reviewed journal sources. These additional sources can be anything
that you feel is pertinent to your argument.

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