Checklist for Writing and Critical Thinking

Grateful acknowledgments to Wes Chapman for this checklist

A: required in formal assignment(s)

B: Not required in formal assignment(s) but covered in class discussion or required in informal assignment(s)

C: Addressed indirectly in paper comments, conferences, discussion questions

Critical Thinking & Logic




formulating a claim or hypothesis


supporting a claim with evidence


rebutting counterarguments


avoiding logical fallacies


cohesion between logical subpoints or premises


description skills


definition skills


comparing and contrasting ideas/concepts/arguments


identifying implicit assumptions


making connections between ideas across writers & texts


analyzing: breaking down a topic


placing ideas in broader (e.g., social, historical, economic) contexts


drawing generalizations from particulars


balancing generalization and specific application/example


applying a theory or generalization to a specific circumstance


identifying cause and effect




Working with Sources


Identifying main thesis of a text


Identifying secondary claims and supporting premises


Active reading: taking notes, responding to text, marking text


quoting and paraphrasing




synthesizing multiple sources


reading sympathetically & reading skeptically


identifying assumptions


locating the scholarly context of a resource








understanding the needs and knowledge of an audience


having a clear sense of the writer’s role/standpoint


knowing genre, discipline, format, occasion contexts and conventions


finding an appropriate voice and tone


crafting a clear, specific, significant, contestable thesis


coordinating thesis and structure


creating a coherent, logically connected structure


using effective logical and syntactical transitions


integrating supporting material into prose


using supporting material to buttress claims


writing effective introductions and conclusions


presenting a consistent, lucid style appropriate to writing context


avoiding grammar, punctuation, and mechanics errors


mastering invention, global-revision, and local-revision strategies




Research and Scholarly Skills


knowing how to use indexes, databases, bibliographies


preparing a bibliography


annotating a bibliography


evaluating the relevance of sources


identifying and evaluating the reliability/credentials of sources


knowing primary vs. secondary sources


mastering a documentation style (MLA, APA, CMS, etc.)


knowing and avoiding plagiarism


controlling quotation, paraphrase, and summary in the paper


appropriate collaboration with others during the writing process


appropriate discussion/communication styles


respecting diversity of opinion


avoiding relativism (all opinions are equally valid); demanding evidence


analyzing pedagogy