What is meant by critical?
Writing the critical review requires you to read the selected text in detail and to also read other related texts so that you can present a fair and reasonable evaluation of the selected text.Â At university, to be critical does not mean to criticise in a negative manner. Rather it requires you to question the information and opinions in a text and present your evaluation or judgement of the text. To do this well, you should attempt to understand the topic from different perspectives (i.e. read related texts) and in relation to the theories, approaches and frameworks in your course.
Structure of a Critical Review
The length of an introduction should be one paragraph. Include a few opening sentences that briefly explain the topic of the text. Present the aim of the text and summarise the main finding or key argument. Conclude the introduction with a brief statement of your evaluation of the text. This can be a positive or negative evaluation or, as is usually the case, a mixed response.
The critique should be a balanced discussion and evaluation of the strengths, weakness and validity of the text. Illustrate your points with examples, include other sources to support your evaluation (remember to reference). Â Avoid a point-by-point listing of themes and use a more integrated approach.
You can choose how to sequence your critique. Here are some examples to get you started:
- Most important to least important conclusions you make about the text.
- If your critique is more positive than negative, then present the negative points first and the positive last.
- If your critique is more negative than positive, then present the positive points first and the negative last.
- If there are both strengths and weakness for each statement you evaluate, you need to decide overall what your judgement is. For example, you may want to comment on a key idea in the text and have both positive and negative comments. You could begin by stating what is good about the idea and then concede and explain how it is limited in some way. While this example shows a mixed evaluation, overall you are probably being more negative than positive.
- Think about what the main point of your criticism will be. You can either address each statement you choose in one paragraph, including both negative and positive points or you can write a paragraph of positive aspects and another of negative.
This is usually a very short paragraph.
- Restate your overall opinion of the text.
- If necessary some further qualification or explanation of your judgement can be included. This can help your critique sound fair and reasonable.
Include a list of references at the end of the review.
Critical review of an article
Write your opinion about the article – evaluate the statements in the article and support your arguments with empirics- data, statistics, other articles, books, etc.
You do not need to summarise the text and you do not need to evaluate all the aspects of the quality of the text, such as significance of the article, methodology used, writing style or structure. Evaluate only the arguments – ask yourself the following questions:
- What claims are made?
- Is the argument consistent?
- What kinds of evidence does the text rely on?
- How valid and reliable is the evidence?
- How effective is the evidence in supporting the argument?
- What conclusions are drawn?
- Are these conclusions justified?
- Has the author overlooked anything?
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