Technical and Scientific Writing and Critical Thinking Skills

             

Effective technical, business, and scientific writing all depend on the writer having excellent critical thinking skills. While the definition of critical thinking skills differs depending on who's doing the defining, a panel of experts defined them as "process of purposeful self-regulatory judgment that drives problem-solving and decision-making" ( Facione and American Philosophical Association, 1990 ).

So, some of us may question how critical thinking and writing are related; what do problem-solving and decision-making have to do with effective writing? And the answer is "Everything!" Critical thinking skills are intimately involved in how well we write. In the scientific and technical writing courses that we teach, we typically begin with a critical thinking exercise that asks participants to make decisions based on a limited set of paramaters; essentially, they're to solve a problem using a set of tools and they're to rationalize why they made the decisions they did. The idea behind this exercise is for writers to begin to understand that writing is problem-solving. That is, writing is a big puzzle and it's up to us as writers to determine how to put the puzzle together.

The obvious elements of the puzzle are audience and purpose; however, beyond these aspects are the elements that make up the actual document and that determine whether the reader will "buy" our argument. These include word choice, paragraph and sentence structure, and logic and reason, both of which are integral parts of critical thinking. 

In short, then, writers need not only to develop their critical thinking skills, but to understand and use them when writing, whether they're writing workplace documents, blogging, or journaling. These critical thinking skills will go a long way toward helping writers write usable, logical, and well-reasoned documents

 
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