An article critique is a type of essay in which you determine and critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of an article. The purpose of this kind of paper is to describe the main ideas of the author and show whether the arguments are reasonable or not for the stated research objectives. Writing a good critique involves active reading and taking notes in order to conduct an intensive objective analysis. A well-designed critique provides a reader with a clear idea of the main points of the author, his or her arguments and conclusions. Writing an article critique helps students improve their own writing, analytical and critical thinking skills.
What to Begin With?
A thorough article critique requires an engagement with the full original source rather than just summarizing its main points. One cannot scrutinize a source without reading and understanding it. Therefore, the first thing you should do is read the article in order to ascertain the overall argument that is being presented by the author. Then, carefully read the paper once again; ensure that everything in the text is clear to you. In case there are terms that you do not understand, consider doing some research to define the meaning of the unknown words. Approach your reading with a series of questions to challenge the arguments the author is making (Wyse and Cowan 30). Critically analyze the article and develop a balanced judgment based on the author’s view, other authors’ views, and your own experience.
It is suggested that you take notes of facts and specific details presented in the text. In particular, identify the following aspects:
- What are the credentials of the author? Consider the credibility of the publication in which the article has appeared.
- Do the research methods and techniques selected by the author allow them to answer the research question?
- Is the entire discussion relevant or is it outdated?
- Are there any ideas that have been underemphasized?
- Have ethical standards been considered by the author? Is there a conflict of interests?
- Are there any biases in the text? Does the author ignore contrary evidence?
- Is the research grounded in the pertinent literature? Is literature properly cited?
- Check the paper for stylistic elements, such as vague or ambiguous statements and generalized ideas.
You may read the text several times in order to cover all the above-mentioned points. Avoid taking brief notes, as they will complicate the following analysis of the article. Remember that you are dealing with complex academic work, so it is feasible to review each aspect in detail. Consider using direct quotations from the author’s work where appropriate in order to avoid plagiarism.
Analyze the Main Points of the Author
As already mentioned above, an article critique involves a critical analysis of the arguments of a text rather than just a summary of them. When conducting an analysis, you must be objective and try not to rely solely on your impressions, emotions, or intuition. Your aim is to evaluate whether the overall argument provided by the author is logical. Consider the following recommendations at this stage of writing a critique:
- What is the target audience of the article?
- What is the author’s purpose for writing the article?
- Are there any logical fallacies presented in the paper?
- Does the author make an appeal to the emotions or values of readers? How does the appeal influence the author’s argument?
- How convincing is the article?
- Does the paper contain a theoretical framework?
- Is the author objective in presenting his or her ideas?
If you are analyzing a research article, consider covering the following points:
- Identify whether the objective of the study is important for this scientific field.
- Have procedures and techniques been described thoroughly and in detail? Is it possible for a reader to duplicate them?
- Are the chosen statistical methods appropriate and relevant?
- Is there any duplicated content?
- Are there any contradictions?
- Identify the representativeness of a sample.
Structure and Writing Style
When all the notes have been taken and the main argument has been analyzed, begin writing a critique ensuring that the structure of your paper includes the required elements. Among them there should be an introduction, an analysis, a conclusion, and a reference list or bibliography. As with other types of academic papers, an article critique should be written in the third person and formatted according to a chosen citation style.
Begin your critique by identifying the article’s title, the author/authors, date of publication and the name of the journal or other publication in which the article was published. You may also include the author’s professional and academic qualifications. In this section, clearly describe what the study is about, introduce the research question or problem, and present the theoretical and conceptual framework. Also, briefly describe the purpose, rationale, and nature of the study. Identify if a research problem is relevant and discuss the contribution of the study to the existing scientific knowledge. Be sure to include a thesis statement that outlines your main argument before proceeding to the main part of the critique.
In the main part of your paper, answer the following questions:
- How convincing is the author’s argument?
- Is the article useful? How does it contribute to the scientific field?
- How does the article relate to other relevant research?
- Literature Review
If you are analyzing a research study, the structure of your critique should correspond to the structure of the paper. It is suggested to proceed with a brief description and analysis of the literature review to determine how an article fits into the current research framework. Ask yourself:
- Is the literature review focused on the problem?
- Has the author covered relevant and up-to-date studies on the topic?
- Is there a theoretical framework?
- Has the author presented an opposing view in this section? Is there any bias or misinterpretation?
- Research Design and Methods
When analyzing research design and methodology, you may consider answering the following questions:
- How does the method reflect other studies on the same topic (sample, data, collection, and setting)?
- Why should the method selected be considered feasible? How realistic is it?
- Have the adopted methods and procedures been explained in terms of their validity?
- Are there any limitations related to the research problem? Are they large or minor ones?
- How do these limitations affect the author’s ability to answer the research question?
- How does the author overcome the limitations of the method?
- Experiments and Results
Discuss the results of the study by answering the following questions:
- How did the author interpret the results?
- Are the results related to the research problem?
- Was the author able to answer the question of the study?
- Did the research provide new knowledge on the chosen topic?
- Are the tables and figures properly formatted?
In this section, critically evaluate how the implications of the obtained results relate to the research objectives. Consider covering the following questions in this section:
- How is the significance of the study described in the paper?
- Does the research make a significant contribution to the existing scientific knowledge?
- Does the research have any practical or theoretical implications?
- Identify if each result is discussed in terms of a thesis to which it relates.
- Did the author discuss the results in relation to the research question and theoretical framework?
In this section, you are expected to summarize the key points of the research and indicate its significance. Also, summarize the main points of your critique and comment about future research in the field. An article critique should contain a list of all references on a separate page after conclusion that were cited within the body of the text.
To sum up, an article critique is a piece of academic writing aimed at critically and objectively evaluating a paper to highlight its strengths and weaknesses, as well as any practical implications. Writing a critique should be preceded by active and close reading and taking notes of certain aspects of research. Irrespective of what kind of article is being scrutinized, a critique should contain an introduction, a main body of text with analysis, and a conclusion.
Wyse, Dominic, and Kate Cowan. The Good Writing Guide for Education Students. SAGE, 2017.