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Writing a Critique

Tutorial for writing a critique in an academic setting.

Preparing to Write a Critique

The first step you'll take when writing a critique is to select the resource that you want to evaluate if one is not provided to you as part of an assignment. Since these requirements can vary across disciplines, these broad guides can help you select and evaluate materials in the library's collection to see if they are critique-worthy:

Tips for Success:

First, and most importantly, make sure that the item you have selected aligns with your assignment. 

Once you select your source, you'll want to read through the entire resource at least twice.

If you've ever watched a movie or read a book more than once, you probably noticed things the second, third, or even fourth time through that you didn't pick up on when you made the first pass through it. Reading to write a critique requires that same level of repeated exposure to the work you're trying to analyze so that you notice those small details and have the opportunity to reflect on them.

Read first for understanding. You must have a broad understanding of what the resource is about before you can evaluate its effectiveness.

Read again for depth. Make notes, and ask yourself the key questions on this guide to help further your understanding.

Once you have made some notes, take a break. It helps when you can let the ideas "breathe" so that you have time to reflect. You'll write a stronger critique if you give yourself plenty of time.

Questions to Ask

As you read, consider the following questions:

  • Do a bit of research on the author. What are the author's credentials? 
    • What else have they written? Can you find other articles written by them in library databases, or just on the web at large?
    • Are they qualified to offer expert opinions on the topic? Do they have experience in the field?
    • Can you locate information about what others in the field say about the author?
  • What kind of research do they use to support their claims?
    • Are they providing and citing other expert opinions? 
    • If they ran a study to support a claim, is the method of research appropriate to the information provided?
  • Is there any evidence of bias or conflict of interest, either in the resource itself or in the author's personal background?
  • Does the resource make general claims without much evidence to support them?
  • How current is the publication? Are the ideas presented there still relevant to the field?