What is critical analysis?

So…you want to know how to write a critical analysis essay? As an academic, I am often asked the following questions:

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man wearing white top using MacBook

Critiquing doesn’t mean that you are simply critical in identifying everything bad. After all, one can be a ‘critically acclaimed’ actor. Instead, one has to tease out both the good and the bad. You will also need to decide how much value you will place on any evidence you find, look at the alternatives and decide how you might apply your findings in the real world. Your arguments should be backed up with evidence throughout.

Types of evidence ranked in order of quality from high to low…


A linear representation of critical analysis

critical analysis
Adapted from Plymouth University (2008)
woman in gray top

The critical analysis cycle

Critical analysis cycle
  • Their tone is personal and familiar rather than academic in nature
  • They rely too heavily on the work of others without presenting their own evidence based arguments
  • They make bold statements without citing their sources of evidence
  • They rely too heavily on description without analysing and evaluating the materials under critique (We can read the material ourselves if description is all we want!)
  • Their arguments lack structure and there is limited evidence of wider reading


So how can we move from being descriptive to being critically analytic? The table below outlines the difference between the two…


Critically Analytic

States what happened Identifies the significance
States what something is like Identifies the significance
Gives the story so far Evaluates strengths and weaknesses
States the order things in which things happened Weighs one piece of information against another Makes reasoned judgments
Says how to do something Argues a case according to the 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 methods used Identifies whether something is appropriate or suitable
Says when something occurred Weighs up the importance of the component parts
States the different components Evaluates the relative significance of details Structures information in order of importance
States options Lists details Shows the relevance of links between pieces of information
Lists in any order States links between items Draws conclusions Identifies why the timing is of importance
Gives information Gives the reasons for selecting each option
greyscale photography of skeleton

Looking at other examples

And remember…

keep calm and critique

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Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤


  • Plymouth University. (2008) Critical Thinking. Plymouth: Plymouth University. [online]
    Available at: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/study/cll/othercourses/itt/resource_bank/studyskills/study/rea
    dingskills/8_criticalthinking_summary1.pdf [Accessed 3.6.2015]
  • Foucault, M. (1981/1988). Practicing criticism (A. Sheridan, Trans.). In M. Foucault & L. D.
    Kritzman, (Ed), Politics, philosophy, culture: Interviews and other writings, 1977-1984 (pp. 152-158). New York, NY: Routledge.

Midwifery Awards – A time to celebrate each other!

The success of our article published in the British journal of midwifery led to us being awarded ‘Highly Commended’ status in the category of ‘Team Impact Commitment’ via ‘The Real Impact Awards’ hosted by 

You can read more about that here. You can also download our article for FREE via the link below.

‘Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome during pregnancy, birth and beyond’

However, following the publication of this article, there were a number of nominations made for me to be awarded ‘Midwife of the Year’.

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On the 13th of February I attended the British Journal of Midwifery Conference and Awards Ceremony. The  was an inspiring event with many wonderful speakers. I was espeically gripped by Patrick O’Brien, asked ‘Should all women be entitled to a Caesarean section on request?’ – You can read more about his point of view here.

I was also in awe of Professor Marlene Sinclair asking ‘Is vaginal birth after caesarean section ever normal?’…Spoiler…yes it is! Speaking to Marlene before her presentation, she was so nervous. But she took the crowd by storm and walked away with a lifetime achievement award. So well deserved! Here she is below with Professor Dame Tina Lavender, who was also inspiring when sharing the impact of the new WHO Intrapartum Care guidelines.

The day was truly inspiring, and a vibe of kindness and compassion towards each other permeated the room. However, the quote I am left with was shared by Marlene. It reads as follows:

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” ~African proverb.

The awards were equally inspiring, and I came away with a ‘Midwife of the Year Award’ (2nd place). How amazing is that?!!

Coventry midwife is named runner-up after helping hundreds of women access care

Coventry University also ran two media stories surrounding my success. You can read these HERE and HERE. Thanks to everyone for making me feel special 🎓❤ It really is awesome to raise the profile of our research in this way!

I also wanted to thank Sandra Godley & the team at BBC Coventry & Warwickshire for having me on the radio show ‘UpBeat’ You can listen to us chat about midwifery, research, #EhlersDanlosSyndrome & more below…


(I come in at around 12 mins 30 seconds) #EDS

This work has also won us the Wendy Savage Travel Bursary to be presented at the leading and Inspiring excellence in maternity care meeting on 5 March 2019. This event is hosted by the Royal Society of Medicine’s Maternity and Newborn Forum, and boasts an impressive line up of speakers including Professor Mary Renfrew, Professor Jane Sandall, Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent OBE and Kathryn Gutteridge. I will also share our work at this event, and will cover it in a separate blog post.

So the spring of 2019 has been a really exciting time for our research, and I am sure that we are only at the beginning of something really exciting! Thank you to everyone who supports us on our way. It is great to celebrate with you all!

If you would like to follow the progress of work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤


‘Leading and inspiring excellence in maternity care’ at the Royal Society of Medicine #RSMMaternity

‘Leading and inspiring excellence in maternity care’ was the First conference led by consultant midwives held at the Royal Society of Medicine.


 👏👏Thank you to our hosts…  &

“‘Once a consultant midwife always a consultant midwife…’ – 

Evidence, research and leadership remained strong themes throughout the day…

The key attributes of the   were also presented to us by the fabulous professor @maryrenfrew as we all reflected on how we could drive the profession forward…

Professor  also encouraged midwives to apply for funded PhD opportunities- for more information on this, explore

Then, ⁩ presented the ⁦⁩ this year is the year of the leader!

…and of course…continuity of carer entered the conversation too..

However, the three most exciting parts of the day were as follows:

Sharing our research with an audience of really awesome midwives…..

Sharing the panel with some really awesome midwives….

But most of all… meeting the legendary @wdsavage ‏ , receiving first prize and winning the Wendy Savage Award…Thank you! This  award will enable us to share our work even further as I head to the MAMA Conference in May.

For me, reflections of the day included how I might lead change for childbearing women with hypermobile  and support the midwifery profession to thrive in their wellbeing. To that end, I have begun working on the generation of new evidence to support midwives in work-related psychological distress and evidence to support new understandings in relation to how we care for people having babies more effectively.


If you would like to follow the progress of work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤


#EDSMaternity #hEDS to #pint19

 is a worldwide science festival that takes place 20-22 May and brings researchers to your local pub to present their scientific discoveries.

Over 500 events in >30 cities

This year I have been invited to present our scientific discoveries in relation to hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS) in the context of childbearing to a Pint of Science audience in …Coventry!

#EDSMaternity #hEDS to #pint19

Date Wednesday 22 May 2019
Venue Backhaus & Co. Unit 7 Fargo Village, Coventry, CV1 5ED
Theme Our Body
Talk Title Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in Childbearing
Who is invited? Everyone… please spread the word!
Talk time 8:15pm


 to ! under the theme: Our Body – medicine, human biology, health

Pint of Science 2019

The overall theme for : “What Next?”

  • What Next for science?
  • What Next for Pint of Science?

Find out 20-22 May.


We can’t wait to see you all there @pintofscience 

Tickets for #pint19 are on sale from today (8th April 2019)… All tickets will be £4. Click here to learn more.


If you would like to follow the progress of work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤


How to test someone for hypermobility using the Beighton score and more from the GOLD Online midwifery conference

I was honored to be an invited speaker to the GOLD online Midwifery conference this February (2019). It was wonderful to present our latest findings to an international audience, and I always prefer to do things online, from the comfort of my own office.

The team at GOLD midwifery were very supportive throughout my experience with them, and invited me to join in a podcast interview on my chosen topic..

‘Exploring the needs of childbearing women with Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS)’ – You can access this via the video below.

The audience were very active in participation, and it was interesting to see how the live polls throughout my live presentation were completed. We had midwives join from all over the world! Some had heard of hEDS, and some had not. Yet everyone was keen to learn more.

This conference also enabled me to introduce my colleagues via video. I will introduce you to them here again now via the two following videos.

Dr Gemma Pearce

Dr Emma Reinhold

By far the most engaging part of my presentation (as told to me by delegate feedback) were the videos which demonstrated what hyperextensible skin looks like, and how to use the Beighton score to test someone for hypermobility. As such, I will share these videos here too. I would love to know what you think of them.

Looking for a video on how to test someone for hypermobility using the Beighton score? See below

Looking for a video about hyper extensible skin? See these two below:

Whilst these explanatory videos were indeed fab, I was also able to share some of our new findings in relation to women’s childbearing experiences with hEDS. The 40 interviews we carried out during this project gave us a much deeper understanding of the issues these childbearing women face. At times they are not believed, belittled and/or accused. Other times, their experience of trauma means that they are not willing to bare any further children. Our findings as a whole are concerning, and we hope to publish and share them soon, so that we can start making quality and safety improvement plans in partnership with key stakeholders.

It is wonderful to know that delegates at this conference were enthusiastic about following our research going forward. This experience has definitely affirmed to me that midwives around the world are thirsty for new knowledge and ways to improve their practice.

Thank you to the delegates and organizers of the GOLD Online Midwifery Conference logging in from over 50 countries!!! 

Delegate locations at the GOLD Midwifery conference

It was wonderful to say goodbye at the closing ceremony too. Thank you for inviting me!

I think this is the beginning of a really special journey.

If you would like to follow the progress of work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤



THE VOTES ARE IN! What do the results tell us about future research on childbearing with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome?

Image result for the results are in

We asked the public to complete three short polls to inform the design of future research on childbearing with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS) and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (HSD)…These polls received over 4000 votes!.. THANK YOU!!!

So what did you tell us?

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What complications should we ask childbearing women with hEDS/HSD about?

Answer Votes Percent
Infertility 100 6%
Miscarriage 151 8%
Premature labours/births 180 10%
Abnormal length of labours/births 173 10%
Poor anaesthetic coverage 213 12%
Hemorrhage/excess bleeding 194 11%
Injury/dislocation 224 12%
Abnormal scar formation 161 9%
Tissue trauma/tearing 205 11%
Changes in hEDS/HSD symptoms 178 10%
Other: 27 2%
Other Answer Votes
All 1
Pessery ring use/Preterm labour/ support pre L&D 1
stargazing/breech births (we can move the babies inside us easily!) 1
hyperemisis 1
All of them in order to be able to develop a comprehensive set of guidelines 1
Unspeakable pain, SIJ separation, spinal blocks 1
slow healing 1
Be aware some EDS people give birth so easily nobody believes they are in labour 1
Impact of medication 1
Hyperemesis 1
Placental abruption 1
Other secondary conditions like PoTS, diverticulit 1
eclampsia/ pre-eclampsia 1
Listening and supporting any knock on affect and recovery etc. 1
absorbable sutures not working and requiring non-absorbable sutures 1
Particularly SI joint. 1
Effect of pregnancy on bladder, bowel and digestive function 1
High level of pain threshold in hEDS patients so their sore will really be agony 1
Abnormal loosening of collagen causing pain and weakness during pregnancy 1
Prolapse 1
Cardiac concerns 1
Mast cell issues, allergies, sensitivities and intolerances, dysautonomic issues 1
Pneumothorax in newborns 1
Recovery after birth 1
POTS related symptoms, management of low BP, need for support after birth 1
PGP / SPD earlier in pregnancy with hEds 1
Fast labour and unstable pelvis forever after…


Which tools would be most useful in helping maternity staff support childbearing women with hEDS/HSD?

Answer Votes Percent
Online learning module 124 12%
Toolkit 113 11%
Infographic 67 7%
Decision-making tree 92 9%
University accredited module 105 10%
Blog series 20 2%
Video series 56 6%
Clinical guidelines 186 18%
Leaflets available in maternity units 150 15%
Knowledge awareness summit 91 9%
Other: 12 1%
Other Answer Votes
Increased Patient and staff liason 1
Info pack should be given to mum when jhm noticed at birth 1
Patient stories; mythbuster facts: too many tacit assumptions in healthcare! 1
Please look at online communities formed around nerve injuries in childbirth. 1
Knowledge of the condition 1
Physicians/OB/GYN/Midwifery CME education toolkit 1
Staff have a lecture from you to educate them! 1
Diagnosis if previously undiagnosed 1
RCOG greentop guidelines on EDS would be amaze-balls! 1
something like spend time with people who have eds, maybe in a support group 1
Patient education 1
Mandatory training for each midwife 1


What should we ask maternity staff about hEDS/HSD in the context of childbearing?

Answer Votes Percent
Awareness of hEDS/HSD 137 10%
Knowledge of hEDS/HSD 189 14%
Knowledge of related conditions (e.g. POTS) 178 13%
Knowledge of hEDS/HSD diagnosis 89 7%
Knowledge of hEDS/HSD prevalence rates 59 4%
Confidence in caring for women and babies with hEDS/HSD 173 13%
Clinical decision making in relation to childbearing with hEDS/HSD 180 14%
How to improve maternity staffs’ knowledge of hEDS/HSD 160 12%
How to identify hEDS/HSD symptoms and what to do about them 159 12%
Other: 7 1%
Other Answer Votes
Everyone is different! Listen to the patient! We have had to learn to deal 1
cross over symptoms. Impact on common pregnancy conditions eg PGP, preeclampsia 1
Adult learning principles. What would be useful to the staff 1
validation of the individual different symptoms 1
All of the above, trying to educate colleagues about EDS/Chiari is hard work 1
Incentive to learn – perhaps a way to earn more if they complete a course? 1
Positioning 1

person standing near tableSo how will we use this information? We will use your votes to ensure that the things that matter most to you are included within two international surveys. Once these surveys have been designed, we will be submitting our research plan to the ethics committee at Coventry University for approval. Once ethical approval has been granted, these surveys will be opening very soon to both maternity staff and those childbearing with hEDS/HSD. We hope that the results of these surveys will give us an overall picture in relation to how both maternity staff and childbearing women with hEDS/HSD may be better supported, so please do look out for them and share them where you can.

Many thanks again for all of your responses and suggestions!


If you would like to follow the progress of work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤


Have your say in designing future research on childbearing with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome: VOTE NOW!




As you may or may not know, we (@GemmaSPearce @DrEReinhold  and I, @SallyPezaro) have recently won funding to do further research and professional & public engagement on the topic of  & childbearing.

This will allow us to:

  1. Conduct two international surveys (one with women with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS) or Hypermobile Spectrum Disorder (HSD) about childbearing, and the other with maternity staff)
  2. Spend some time with relevant people/organisations to develop ideas and co-produce great things together
  3. Host a public engagement event

But first we need your help!

We are currently designing how the two international surveys will look and what they will ask our participants about. Whilst we have largely relied on the current evidence base to develop the surveys so far, we would also like to involve YOU (the public) in telling us what topics we should prioritise.

Please indicate which topics matter most to you via the following short polls;

(bear in mind that the more answers you select, the longer our final survey will take to complete…)

Which tools would be most useful in helping maternity staff support childbearing women with hEDS/HSD?

What should we ask maternity staff about hEDS/HSD in the context of childbearing?

What complications should we ask childbearing women with hEDS/HSD about?

Thank You on wooden blocks

Many thanks for your responses and suggestions. Please share this blog post far and wide so that we can include as many voices as possible in the design of this work!

We will be using all responses submitted before the end of the 24th of February 2019.


If you would like to follow the progress of work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤