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What’s an Article Critique and How to Write It

What Is an Article Critique Assignment?

An article critique, also known as a response paper, is a formal evaluation of a journal article or another type of literary or scientific content. Your main goal is to show whether or not the author provided reasonable arguments and facts for their main points.

How to Write an Article Critique

Although the concept is fairly simple, many students still end up wondering: “What is a research article critique?” After the initial explanation, the professor doesn’t provide many additional instructions. So you simply assume that you’ll need to read a research article and then discuss it from a critical point of view. That assumption is correct. However, the article critique is a much more complex challenge than most students expect.

Before we get any further, allow us to explain what a good article critique should deliver:

  • Instead of simply summarizing the main points of the article, you must critique them. This is where most students make a mistake; they offer a mere summary of the research article they read. Journal articles already have summaries. Your professor doesn’t want to get that. They want your unique opinion and discussion.
  • You should provide not only your impressions of the article, but evidence that backs them up as well.
  • In addition to identifying the main idea of the article, you should also clarify its background and purpose.
  • Most of all, you’ll focus on the issues this article raises, as well as the ones it avoids.

Now that we elaborated on that definition, let’s get to the main point: how to critique an article. We’ll give you specific steps to follow, so you’ll complete this paper with success.

Step 1: Active Reading

You cannot critique a research article before you read and understand it. These journal articles can be quite lengthy, and they often involve terms you don’t understand. That’s why simple reading won’t be enough. You’ll have to engage in active and close reading, accompanied with some research, so you can define and understand the terms that are new to you.

During this process, you will observe facts and details about the text. You will identify the main point of the author, as well as the arguments they used to support that point.

This means that you’ll definitely need a marker, as well as a note-taking app. If you prefer taking notes the old-fashion way, get a notebook and start writing as you read.

Make sure to identify these main aspects of the research as you read through the article:

  • Research problem and research goal
  • Hypothesis
  • Research methods
  • Participants in the research
  • Variables
  • Main findings
  • Conclusions

You’ll probably need to read the article several times before you’re done with this stage. You’ll discover new layers with each reading, and new ideas on how to critique will come to your mind. Take notes of those ideas, too.

Speaking of notes, don’t make them brief. Maybe you think that a brief note expresses your entire idea, but it doesn’t. Remember: this is a complex type of academic paper. You’re analyzing an advanced text, so it’s easy to forget some of your ideas when the time to write comes. Yes; it will take more time for you to read and take notes of your observations. However, you’ll minimize the obstacles during the writing process if you’re willing to make this effort.

Step 2: Develop a Preliminary Outline

Now that you have thorough understanding of the article and you took plenty of notes, it’s time to organize them into a preliminary outline. Why is this a preliminary outline? – Because you’re still not done with the process of critique. In this outline, you’ll just plan how you’ll discuss the main points of the article.

Step 3: Question the Author’s Main Points

This is the first thing the professor will wonder when they start reading your critique: “Did this student understand the difference between a summary and an analysis? The article critique is not a summary; it’s an analysis from a critical point of view. Although your main purpose is not persuasion, you still have to develop a convincing discussion.

To achieve that, you must wonder whether or not the writer’s overall message is logical. This goal will demand additional research. You hardly have the entire base of knowledge needed for analyzing a researcher’s work. Thus, you’ll have to search for similar examples and compare this article’s hypothesis with them.

You can check the logic of the message in an easy way: compare the introduction and the conclusion. Do the elements of these two sections match?

In addition to the main message and the logic of the article, you’ll question other aspects, too:

  • The research methods
  • The results
  • The discussion
  • The stylistic elements

Yes; even the stylistic elements are important. If the author’s style is incomprehensive, you may use that argument as an element of your critique.

When you’re questioning the main elements and points of the article, remember: you’re not obliged to write a negative critique. The critique can be positive as well. If you agree with all points, you’ll write a positive critique. If you don’t agree, you’ll write your remarks. If you’re somewhere in between (that’s the usual approach of article critiques), you’ll emphasize both the positive and negative elements of the article. In any case, you must use strong arguments to support your points.

Step 4: Identify Contradictions

Throughout the reading, maybe you identified some contradictions in the article. Researchers, whether intentionally or unintentionally, can be biased. Thus, they may ignore contrary evidence or even misinterpret it, so they will turn it to their advantage.

This bias can come from prejudices. An architect with traditional education, for example, has prejudices towards feng shui, and they will ignore some evidence that might prove the benefits of that method. A medical expert will have prejudices towards Chinese medicine. You get the point.

Note any biases, and you’ll find the contradictions. Whenever the author mentions another author’s work, check out that source. Yes; it will require more reading, but it will help you identify the weak points in the article, so you’ll be able to critique it.

If the author cited untrustworthy evidence, you may add that point in your critique.

Step 5: Write It!

You’ll have plenty of notes by this stage. Don’t worry; that’s a good thing. All you need to do is organize them in a clear outline, so you’ll know what logical progression to follow as you discuss the article. Once you’re ready, you may start with the writing process.

  • Disclose Your Main Argument in the Introduction

It’s not that hard to start writing the introduction. You should provide the title of the article you’re critiquing, its author’s name, the journal where it was published, and the publication date. Then, you’ll make a statement about the focus of this research article. It has a thesis statement, right? Include it in the introduction.

Most types of academic papers contain a thesis statement in the introduction. In the article critique, the introduction should also outline your main argument. Disclose your main points of critique in this statement, so it will give the reader an idea of what they are about to read.

  • Write the Body Paragraphs

Now, the time for a real critique starts. Each one of the body paragraphs should expand on a new point of the article. Since this is not a 5-paragraph essay (the article critique will be much longer!), you may use subheadings for these sections. If you’re writing a brief article critique, you don’t have to do that.

Each paragraph of the body should start with a topic sentence, which you’ll develop further in the paragraph. Make sure there’s a logical connection between these parts of the paper.

  • Summarize Your Arguments

In the conclusion, you’ll summarize your critique and you’ll suggest its potential implications. You may recommend further research, which will shed new light on the issue and will improve the work of the writer you just critiqued.

Step 6: Revise!

Do not skip this step! Don’t even think about it. The article critique is a serious project, which should showcase your capacity of critical thinking and argumentation. If you fail to revise it, even the slightest flaw will ruin the impression for the reader.

During this process, pay attention to the citations. Did you reference all sources properly? Proofread the bibliography, too! If you don’t know how to format it, make sure to follow the rules of article critique APA formatting style.

Conclusion

This is not a simple project. In fact, the article critique may be one of the most complex academic writing challenges for students. However, it’s also very important. It teaches you how to use the work of another writer without being completely convinced in their point of view. It teaches you how to question and check their arguments.

You’re developing the skill of critical thinking, which is extremely important for your progress in any career. So pay attention to this assignment; the results are well worth the effort.

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