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Write a Critical Review

What is a critical review?

A critical review is a description and evaluation of a source, usually a journal article or book. It moves beyond a summary to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the source and to comment on the quality of the source as a whole.

  • Do not be confused by the term “critical”: it does not mean that you only look at the negative aspects of what the researcher has done. You should address both the positive and negative aspects.

Some instructors will use these words to refer to a critical review: 

  • Critical analysis 
  • Article or book report
  • Article or book review

What should my first steps be in writing a critical review?

  • Read the article or book carefully
  • Briefly summarize the main point and key details of the source
  • Analyze and evaluate the quality of the research by indicating the source’s strengths and weaknesses in the following areas: 
    • Originality (e.g. Does the study address a clear gap in the previously existing literature or in the field of study?) 
    • Reliability (e.g. Is the article or book peer reviewed? Is it free of author bias?)
    • Validity (e.g. Is the study repeatable? Are the research results generalizable?)
    • Relevance (e.g. Is the research well connected or related to other research in the field? Does it make a useful or timely contribution?)
    • Presentation (e.g. Is the article or book well organized? Does the writing logically flow between sections, paragraphs, and sentences? 
  • Analyze the strengths and weaknesses to determine the source’s overall value and contribution to the area of study. 
  • The specific purpose, length, and amount of research will vary from assignment to assignment.
  • Some, but not all, critical reviews will require you to support your ideas with information from other sources. 

Resources to help with writing your essay

Guide: Write a University EssayGuide: Study Effectively: Reading CriticallyGuide: Cite Your Sources

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