What is a critique?
A critique is a genre of academic writing that briefly summarises and critically evaluates a work or concept. Critiques can be used to carefully analyse a variety of works such as:
- Creative works – novels, exhibits, film, images, poetry
- Research – monographs, journal articles, systematic reviews, theories
- Media – news reports, feature articles
Like an essay, a critique uses a formal, academic writing style and has a clear structure, that is, an introduction, body and conclusion. However, the body of a critique includes a summary of the work and a detailed evaluation. The purpose of an evaluation is to gauge the usefulness or impact of a work in a particular field.
Why do we write critiques?
Writing a critique on a work helps us to develop:
- A knowledge of the work’s subject area or related works.
- An understanding of the work’s purpose, intended audience, development of argument, structure of evidence or creative style.
- A recognition of the strengths and weaknesses of the work.
How to write a critique
Before you start writing, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the work that will be critiqued.
- Study the work under discussion.
- Make notes on key parts of the work.
- Develop an understanding of the main argument or purpose being expressed in the work.
- Consider how the work relates to a broader issue or context.
There are a variety of ways to structure a critique. You should always check your unit materials or blackboard site for guidance from your lecturer. The following template, which showcases the main features of a critique, is provided as one example.
Typically, the introduction is short (less than 10% of the word length) and you should:
- Name the work being reviewed as well as the date it was created and the name of the author/creator.
- Describe the main argument or purpose of the work.
- Explain the context in which the work was created. This could include the social or political context, the place of the work in a creative or academic tradition, or the relationship between the work and the creator’s life experience.
- Have a concluding sentence that signposts what your evaluation of the work will be. For instance, it may indicate whether it is a positive, negative, or mixed evaluation.
Briefly summarise the main points and objectively describe how the creator portrays these by using techniques, styles, media, characters or symbols. This summary should not be the focus of the critique and is usually shorter than the critical evaluation.
This section should give a systematic and detailed assessment of the different elements of the work, evaluating how well the creator was able to achieve the purpose through these. For example: you would assess the plot structure, characterisation and setting of a novel; an assessment of a painting would look at composition, brush strokes, colour and light; a critique of a research project would look at subject selection, design of the experiment, analysis of data and conclusions.
A critical evaluation does not simply highlight negative impressions. It should deconstruct the work and identify both strengths and weaknesses. It should examine the work and evaluate its success, in light of its purpose.
Examples of key critical questions that could help your assessment include:
- Who is the creator? Is the work presented objectively or subjectively?
- What are the aims of the work? Were the aims achieved?
- What techniques, styles, media were used in the work? Are they effective in portraying the purpose?
- What assumptions underlie the work? Do they affect its validity?
- What types of evidence or persuasion are used? Has evidence been interpreted fairly?
- How is the work structured? Does it favour a particular interpretation or point of view? Is it effective?
- Does the work enhance understanding of key ideas or theories? Does the work engage (or fail to engage) with key concepts or other works in its discipline?
This evaluation is written in formal academic style and logically presented. Group and order your ideas into paragraphs. Start with the broad impressions first and then move into the details of the technical elements. For shorter critiques, you may discuss the strengths of the works, and then the weaknesses. In longer critiques, you may wish to discuss the positive and negative of each key critical question in individual paragraphs.
To support the evaluation, provide evidence from the work itself, such as a quote or example, and you should also cite evidence from related sources. Explain how this evidence supports your evaluation of the work.
This is usually a very brief paragraph, which includes:
- A statement indicating the overall evaluation of the work
- A summary of the key reasons, identified during the critical evaluation, why this evaluation was formed.
- In some circumstances, recommendations for improvement on the work may be appropriate.
Include all resources cited in your critique. Check with your lecturer/tutor for which referencing style to use.
Checklist for a critique
- Mentioned the name of the work, the date of its creation and the name of the creator?
- Accurately summarised the work being critiqued?
- Mainly focused on the critical evaluation of the work?
- Systematically outlined an evaluation of each element of the work to achieve the overall purpose?
- used evidence, from the work itself as well as other sources, to back and illustrate my assessment of elements of of the work?
- formed an overall evaluation of the work, based on critical reading?
- used a well structured introduction, body and conclusion?
- used correct grammar, spelling and punctuation; clear presentation; and appropriate referencing style?
University of New South Wales - some general criteria for evaluating works
University of Toronto - The book review or article critique
How to Critique an Article
Every day students get dozens of new assignments of all shapes and kinds, so it is more that simple to get lost in all of the rules and guidelines. One of such tasks is a critique and often we are asked ‘what is an article critique’, as it is not a regular task and has some specific structural and content requirements.
If you want to learn how to critique an article, you should first have a clear understanding of what this assignment is about. Generally, it is an objective analysis of any piece of work (not depending on its genre), which includes your personal thoughts on the subject. You need to give the reader an idea of whether the author of an article based it on facts and credible information. Your main goal is to show your personal opinion, backed with evidence and arguments, so you need to be very attentive while reading the article and noting down key elements.
Many students fail to complete this task, as they simply provide a summary of the analyzed paper, forgetting about personal approach and challenging your own skills and knowledge. That is why it is so simple to make one of many mistakes, while completing an article critique. These mistakes may include:
- Using only negative critique. Although your main aim is to analyze the article, you should add some positive features to dilute the overall impressive from your paper;
- Excessive background information. Most of the readers already know what the article is about or who its author is, so don’t waste too much time and energy on providing boring information on the subject itself and biography or publishing details;
- Not including the main argument. Many students forget about this important element and simply try to summarize the whole article. However, main argument is an essential part of your work and you need to include it at the beginning of your paper to make sure everyone knows what your position on the subject is.
If you follow all the recommendations, you will easily complete an outstanding article critique without any efforts!
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Article Critique Example
One of the ways of simplifying the whole process of completing the assignment is using an article critique example. Many students decide to download such samples in order to get an overall idea of how the assignment should look like and what key points should be added.
Using an example may greatly help you to create a proper structure, use necessary formatting methods and shape the whole work according to professor’s demands. It is your way of making the whole process of creating an article critique simple and fun, following all the common rules and regulations. With the help of such samples you will be able to save lots of times and nerves, which will definitely contribute to the overall results.
APA Format Article Critique
It is not a secret that most of professors pay careful attention not only to the content of the assignment but also how well it is formatted. That is why you need to be very attentive, when shaping your work and adding final changes. One of the most popular formatting styles, while completing an article critique is American Psychological Association (APA) format, which has its specific rules and guidelines. Your paper should be double-spaced, using 1-inch margins and Times New Roman font in 12 point. The general structure of your critique should consist of a title page, abstract, body and references. When formatting the title page, you should indicate name of your paper and school, as well as your personal data.
Article Critique APA
Article Critique Example
Article Critique Format
Article Critique Samples
Critique Essays Examples
Examples of Article Critiques
APA format article critique follows a clear structure:
- Abstract. This section should consist of a brief summary of the critique you are going to provide. Write down how it will influence the reader and what analysis methods were used. This paragraph should be 15-250 words long with centered word ‘Abstract’ at the top;
- Body. On the next page center the title of your work and start providing necessary details, not forgetting to double space the text. Here you should include mistakes you have found in the article, methods you have used and so on;
- References. This section may include only the paper you are analyzing but you shouldn’t forget about the formatting style you are going to use. Write the reference in such an order: last name of the author, initials, publication year, title of the article, name of the journal in italics, volume, page numbers if necessary.
In-text citations should be made using the author-date system, which means that you only need to indicate name of the author, followed by the year of publication. If you want to quote a certain part of the paper, you need to include the page name at the end.
If you know how to write an article critique, you will easily complete the assignment not depending on its complexity and formatting peculiarities.