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MHS Library | Fact checking

Critical literacy is a thinking skill that involves the questioning and examination of ideas, and requires you to synthesise, analyse, interpret, evaluate and respond to the texts you read or listen to.

Critical literacy advocates the adoption of "critical" perspectives toward text and involves analysing texts and utilising strategies to uncover underlying messages. The purpose of critical literacy is to create a self-awareness of the topic and adopting a critical and questioning approach.

What is the difference between critical literacy and critical thinking?

While critical literacy and critical thinking involve similar steps and may overlap, they are not interchangeable. Critical thinking takes place when you troubleshoot problems and solve them through a process involving logic and mental analysis. Critical thinking focuses on ensuring that your arguments are supported by evidence and void of unclear or deceptive presentation. 

To make sense of the biases embedded within these claims first uncovered by critical thinking, critical literacy goes beyond identifying the problem to also analysing the power dynamics that create the written or oral texts of society and then questioning their claims.

Selective summary from Wikipedia

For our purposes (and this is in line with how many educational institutions define these terms (including University of Melbourne), we will use the general term 'critical literacies' to include critical thinking as well as critical literacy.

The following definitions will help in assessing viewpoint.  

Bias: Prejudice or preconceived notion that causes a person to favor one person or side of the debate over another. In other words, a bending of facts, cherry-picking of facts, or a complete fabrication of information in order to fit a preconceived narrative.  

Confirmation bias: When conducting research, this is your natural inclination to give more weight to information and arguments that agree with your own original opinions and/or beliefs.

Moderate: Holding views that are neither excessive nor extreme.

Neutral: Not aligned with any side in a controversy, or with a particular political or ideological group.

Objective: Without bias. An objective position aims to be based on fact, rather than on personal feelings or prejudices.

Subjective: With bias or preconceived views. A subjective opinion is more affected by personal viewpoint or experiences than by fact.


The functional language of critique

Here are some examples of the language and phrases you can use.

Limitations – negative critique

  • One of the limitations with his explanation is that it …
  • The key problem with this position is that …
  • The study fails to take into account the importance of …

Strengths – positive critique

  • This was significant / influential in that it …
  • This landmark / pivotal / thorough study proposed that …
  • She correctly points out that …

Constructive suggestions

  • The study would have been more useful if it had …
  • The findings may have been more applicable if …
  • The paper may have been more convincing if it …


  • Bond (2001) found… Similarly, Bennet (2003) also argued that … Evans (2010) supports these ideas saying that …
  • Unlike Bradley (2001), however, Bennet (2003) maintained that it was more about… while Lee (2004) argued …

Source: University of Melbourne

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