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What’s the difference between description and critical analysis?

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This post was originally added to Learnhigher on:

(writing adapted from Moon, cited in Cottrell 1999:23)

Descriptive writing

Critical/analytical writing

States what happened Identifies the significance
States what something is like Evaluates (judges the value) strengths and weaknesses
Gives the story so far Weighs one piece of information against another
States the order in which things happened Makes reasoned judgements
Says how to do something Argues a case according to evidence
Explains what a theory says Shows why something is relevant or suitable
Explains how something works Indicates why something will work (best)
Notes the method used Indicates whether something is appropriate or suitable
Says when something occurred Identifies why they timing is important
States the different components Weighs up the importance of component parts
States options GIves reason for the selection of each option
Lists details Evaluates the relative significance of details
Lists in any order Structures information in order (eg. of importance)
States links between items Shows the relevance of links between pieces of information
Gives information Draws conclusions