WRITING A CRITICAL REVIEW

Project description
The articles below were selected for ease of reading and for length. Please choose one article for review. All can be found as PDF or HTML files through searching them on the UNB Libraries Web site. Little or no research may be required to write a satisfactory review of up one thousand words.

“Does Being Attractive Always Help? Positive and Negative Effects of Attractiveness on Social Decision Making”

WRITING A CRITICAL REVIEW

What is a critical review?
A critical review is much more than a simple summary; it is an analysis and evaluation of a book, article,
or other medium. Writing a good critical review requires that you understand the material, and that you
know how to analyze and evaluate that material using appropriate criteria.

Steps to writing an effective critical review:

Reading
Skim the whole text to determine the overall thesis, structure and methodology. This will help you better
understand how the different elements fit together once you begin reading carefully.
Read critically. It is not enough to simply understand what the author is saying; it is essential to
challenge it. Examine how the article is structured, the types of reasons or evidence used to support the
conclusions, and whether the author is reliant on underlying assumptions or theoretical frameworks. Take
copious notes that reflect what the text means AND what you think about it.
Analyzing

Examine all elements. All aspects of the text—the structure, the methods, the reasons and evidence, the conclusions, and, especially, the logical connections between all of these—should be considered. The types of questions asked will vary depending on the discipline in which you are writing, but the following samples will provide a good starting point:

Structure:
What type of text is it? (For example: Is it a primary source or secondary source? Is it original research or a comment on original research?)
What are the different sections and how do they fit together?
Are any of the sections particularly effective (or ineffective)?

Methodology:
Is the research quantitative or qualitative?
Does the methodology have any weaknesses?
How does the design of the study address the hypothesis?

Reasons or Evidence:
What sources does the author use (interviews, peer-reviewed journals, government reports, journal entries, newspaper accounts)?
What types of reasoning are employed?
What type of evidence is provided (empirical, statistical, logical)?
Are there any gaps in the evidence (or reasoning)?

Conclusions:
Does the data adequately support the conclusion drawn by the researcher(s)?
Are other interpretations plausible?
Are the conclusions dependent on a particular theoretical formulation?
What does the work contribute to the field?

Logic:
What assumptions does the author make?
Does the author account for all of the data, or are portions left out?
What alternative perspectives remain unconsidered?
Are there any logical flaws in the construction of the argument?

 

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