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Write a Critical Review

Introduction

Purpose:

  • To introduce the source, its main ideas, key details, and its place within the field
  • To present your assessment of the quality of the source

In general, the introduction of your critical review should include

  1. An embedded citation of the source within the sentence, which includes 
    • Author(s) name
    • Date
    • Title of the source 
  2. A brief summary of the source. Use the following questions to guide you: 
    • What is the author's central purpose?
    • What methods or theoretical frameworks were used to accomplish this purpose?
    • What topic areas, chapters, sections, or key points did the author use to structure the source?
    • What were the results or findings of the study?
    • How were the results or findings interpreted? How were they related to the original problem (author's view of evidence rather than objective findings)?
  3. The background or research context of this source. Use the following questions to guide you:
    • Who conducted the research? What were/are their interests?
      Why did they do this research?
      Was this research pertinent only within the author’s field, or did it have broader (even global) relevance?
      On what prior research was this source based? What gap is the author attempting to address?
      How important was the research question posed by the researcher?
  4. Your overall opinion of the quality of the source. Think of this like a thesis or main argument.

Body

Purpose:

  • Present your evaluation of the source, providing evidence from the text (or other sources) to support your assessment.

In general, the body of your critical review should include

  1. The strengths and weaknesses of the source. Use the following questions to guide you:
    • Overall 
      • Is the material organized logically and with appropriate headings?
      • Are there stylistic problems in logical, clarity or language?
      • Were the author(s) able to answer the question (test the hypothesis) raised
    • Introduction
      • What was the objective of the study?
      • Does all the information lead coherently to the purpose of the study?
    • Methods
      • Are the methods valid for studying the problem or gap?
      • Could the study be duplicated from the information provided?
      • Is the experimental design logical and reliable?
    • Results
      • How are the data organized? Is it logical and interpretable?
      • Do the results reveal what the researcher intended?
    • Discussion
      • Do the authors present a logical interpretation of the results?
      • Have the limitations of the research been addressed?
      • Does the study consider other key studies in the field or other research possibilities or directions?
      • How was the significance of the work described?
  2. A logical presentation of your ideas. You could select one of the following methods of organization:
    • Follow the structure of the journal article (e.g. Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion) - highlighting the strengths and weaknesses in each section
    • Present the weaknesses of the article, and then the strengths of the article (or vice versa).
    • Group your ideas according to different research themes presented in the source
    • Group the strengths and weaknesses of the article into the following areas: originality, reliability, validity, relevance, and presentation

Conclusion

Purpose: 

  • To summarize the strengths and weaknesses of the article as a whole
  • To assert the article’s practical and theoretical significance

In general, the conclusion of your critical review should include

  1. A restatement of your overall opinion
  2. A summary of the key strengths and weaknesses of the research that support your overall opinion of the source
  3. An evaluation of the significance or success of the research. Use the following questions to guide you:
    • Did the research reported in this source result in the formation of new questions, theories or hypotheses by the authors or other researchers?
    • Have other researchers subsequently supported or refuted the observations or interpretations of these authors?
    • Did the research provide new factual information, a new understanding of a phenomenon in the field, a new research technique?
    • Did the research produce any practical applications? 
    • What are the social, political, technological, or medical implications of this research?
    • How do you evaluate the significance of the research? 

References

  • Find out what style guide you are required to follow (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago) and follow the guidelines to create a reference list (may be called a bibliography or works cited).
  • Be sure to include citations in the text when you refer to the source itself or external sources. 
  • Check out our Cite Your Sources Guide for more information. 

How can I improve my critical review?

  • Read assignment instructions carefully and refer to them throughout the writing process.
  • Make an outline of your main sections before you write.
  • If your professor does not assign a topic or source, you must choose one yourself. Select a source that interests you and is written clearly so you can understand it.

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