Academic Writing Complete Guide

Purpose and Audience of this Guide
Why read academic articles?
Essay Writing
Report Writing
Oral Presentations
Finding Sources
Good Academic Scholarship
Understanding Feedback
Exam preparation and Techniques


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Article critique

The word critique does not mean criticism only. This is a style, which identifies, evaluates, and responds to the ideas of an author. The response can be either positive or negative and it is mostly applied to the academic sources. When you are identifying consider the following aspects:

  • The background of the article as well as its purpose
  • The main idea conveyed by the article

When evaluating, consider the following

  • How convincing the argument is
  • The assumptions of the argument
  • The usefulness and the applicability of the argument
  • How the article compares with the current theories an research

When responding, consider the following:

  • Your assessment of the article
  • The issues raised therein
  • The issues that the article avoids

All the above is meant to engage with the article instead of summarizing it. Consider the contents from different angles. Your critique must be objective and supported by relevant evidence.

Definition

An article critique is the objective analysis of a literary or scientific piece whose emphasis is on whether or not the author supported his argument with reasonable and applicable arguments that are based on facts. As earlier said, you must go beyond summarizing the contents of the article to analyze and challenge it. A good critique brings your impressions of the article to the fore and provides adequate evidence to back these impressions. You are supposed to invest more time in reading the work carefully and thoughtfully. This is essential in preparing your arguments, evidence, and write clearly and coherently.

Active reading

  • Read the article to get the main idea
    The first reading is meant to give you an understanding of the of the author’s general argument. You also need to note his thesis.
  • Mark the text in the second reading
    You can use a red pen to highlight the points that strike you most. Pay attention to the following aspects as you read for the second time:
    • The author’s thesis
    • His purpose in arguing the said thesis
    • The target audience and ascertain if the article effectively reach them
    • Availability of ample and valid evidence
    • Gaps in his argument
    • Ascertain if the author misrepresented the evidence or added bias to it
    • Is there a conclusive point?
  • Create a unique symbol for your marking
    You should come up with a symbol that differentiates between parts of a text that seems confusing, inconsistent, or essential. For instance, you can underline important passages, circle confusing ones and start the once that are inconsistent. These symbols allow you to mark up the article quickly. Although it might take a little time before you can recognize your own symbols, they will stick to your mind and allow you to go through the article quicker.
  • Use subsequent readings to take longer notes
    As you continue reading the text, it is crucial you take longer notes when expanded thoughts come to you. For instance, once you notice that the author’s argument is refutable by noting a scientific study that you once read, you can note it in the margins, on your computer or on a separate paper so that you can come back to that idea. Take time to write necessary observations as you read. This will be essential when you are putting your observations in the complete analytical paper.
  • Formulate a preliminary idea for your critique
    Come up with a vague opinion on the piece. Once you have read the article twice or thrice, you can evaluate the author’s overall argument. Come up with a list of possible sources or evidence for your critique. Use your memory to remember any literature you have come across or documentaries you have watched that might be essential in the evaluation of the article.

Collecting and gathering of evidence

  • Poke holes in the logic of the writer’s overall message
    You can test the hypothesis and compare it to the other similar examples. Even though the author might have, used respectable sources in his research analyze the practicality and real-world application of his message. You can also examine his introduction, conclusion to ensure that they match up, and convincing and complementary elements.
  • Search for any intentional or unintentional bias in the article If the author stands to gain something for the conclusions in the article, it is possible to have some level of biases. Bias involves ignoring contrary evidence or its misappropriation to make the conclusions appear different than they are. The author goes ahead to impart his own unfounded opinions on a text. If you have well-sourced opinions, then you are okay, but the ones that lack academic support have t me be met skeptically.

    Bias can also emanate from a place of prejudice. Identify any biases that relate to race, gender, ethnicity, class, or politics.
  • Consider the author’s interpretation of other texts
    If there is a claim made by the author of another person’s work, read it to ascertain if you agree with his perspective especially the one provided in his article. Notice any inconsistencies between your interpretation and that of the author. This is essential when you are writing your review.

    See what other scholars have to say about the work. If they have the same opinion about a text, that opinion should be given, more weight and emphasis than an argument that lacks enough support.
  • Look for unreliable sources of evidence used by the author
    If an author cites an irrelevant text from many years back that has no weight in this discipline, it will greatly diminish the credibility of the article.
  • Pay attention to the stylistic elements
    The contents of the article are essential parts of your literary critique. However, you are not supposed to overlook the literary techniques used by the author. Look out for word choices and the tone of the author throughout the article. This is helpful especially if you are dealing with non-scientific articles that have aspects of literature. These aspects reveal deeper issues in the larger context of the argument. Look for the definition of unfamiliar words since it can alter the meaning of a sentence especially if a word has several definitions.
  • Question the research methods in the scientific article If an article contains a scientific theory, evaluate the research methods behind the experiment.
  • Delve deeper
    Use your existing knowledge, educated opinions, and any research that can help you in agreeing or disagreeing with the author’s point of view.
  • A critique does not have to be positive or negative
    If you agree with the author, ensure that you have built on the argument, and provide additional evidence. You can also complicate the idea made by the author. Fascinating literary critiques do not vehemently disagree with the author but instead, they build upon or complicate the author’s idea with additional evidence.

Formatting your critique

  • Outline your argument in the introduction
    Your introduction should not surpass two paragraphs and should lay out the basic framework of your article critique. Include the name of the author, article title, the journal, or publication in which the article appeared publication date as well as a statement about the thesis statement. You are not supposed to provide evidence for your opinions in the introduction. The evidence is supposed to go in the body paragraphs of your critique. Your introductory assertions need to be bold. You also have to make your purpose right from the onset to make your credibility more effective.
  • Provide the evidence for your argument in the body paragraphs
    Each body paragraph should discuss a new idea or expand further on your argument in a new direction. Every paragraph must have a topic sentence that comprises the contents of that paragraph in a single sentence. Do not feel like you are compressing the contents of a paragraph in a single sentence. It is a way of transiting to a new idea. Each body paragraph must have a transitional sentence that hints, but not expressly state the contents of the next paragraph.
  • Make your argument complex towards the end of your critique
    Even if you have a solid argument, provide a dramatic final twist to take your argument a step further and suggest possible implications. This should come in the final body paragraph just before your conclusion. This will leave the audience with a memorable argument.
  • Your argument must be well reasoned and must use an objective tone
    Do not write in an obnoxious or overly passionate tone since this can be a turn off for the audience. Your passion should be evidenced by the way you have researched and articulated yourself effectively.
  • Wrap your critique by summarizing your argument and suggesting the potential implication
    Recap your main points throughout the article and tell the reader what your critique means for the discipline at large. If there are broad implications for the study, being assessed let them know. If your critique is simply an attempt to debunk the messy work of another scholar, let the audience know.

You have to leave a lasting mark on the reader in the conclusion. This is achieved using assertive language that demonstrates the importance of your work.


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