What is an article critique?
A critique is not (only) a criticism. A critique is a specific style of essay in which you identify, evaluate, and respond to an author's ideas, both positively and negatively. It is usually applied to academic sources.
- What is the article's background and purpose?
- What is the main idea (the main argument) that the article is communicating?
- How convincing is the argument?
- What does the argument assume?
- How useful or applicable is the article?
- How does the article compare with other current theory and research?
- What is your assessment of the article?
- What issues does it raise?
- What issues does it avoid?
You are expected to engage with the article rather than just summarize it, by considering its content carefully, and from different angles. Your critique must be objective, so support it with evidence rather than instinct or emotion.
As a tertiary student you are expected to read widely and develop analytical skills to assess what you read. When you engage in a critique you are demonstrating to your marker that:
- You have read extensively
- You can identify the particular strengths and weaknesses of those readings
- You can identify different positions and perspectives in the readings
- You are developing the skills and knowledge to engage with the experts
- You are joining in a broader academic debate about an article's merits
Critiquing means that you are developing an understanding of more than a single article: it means that you are developing an understanding of the 'big picture', of the discipline as a whole. Later in your study you may be expected to contribute new understandings to the discipline, so it is important to understand the current state of knowledge.
Writing a critique
The process of critiquing an article involves reading it critically, that is, actively responding to the reading. Begin by asking questions about the article. What is, for example, its:
- Use of evidence?
This is covered in detail in the section on critical reading.
The structure of an article critique is typically the same as for an essay.
References and further reading
Metcalfe, M. (2006). Reading critically at university. London, England: Sage. [Massey Library link]