Whether you're critiquing a research article by a friend or an expert, you must assess a few key components to deliver a strong critique. The author must clearly detail a problem and present a claim regarding how to solve or explain it. This claim is the author's thesis. The author must then support her thesis with cogent reasons and evidence. Your job is to explain whether the thesis, reasons and evidence are coherent and convincing. If the research article is by a friend or classmate, you also may wish to comment on grammar, spelling and citations.
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Read the article in its entirety without making any edits. Concentrate on the article's overall purpose. Does the article stay focused? Does it make sense? Note any potential problems.
Analyse the introduction, which should establish a problem and give a proposed solution. If you do not understand the thesis or can't discern what it is, note how the author could improve clarity. If the thesis is clear and compelling, make a note of praise.
Critique the body of the paper, which consists of facts that support the thesis. Note whether you think the author's reasons are convincing and if there's enough evidence for each reason. Is the evidence credible? The author must illustrate how these reasons and evidence relate to her thesis. Make a note wherever you think the reasoning or evidence is weak. Write a positive note wherever the author makes strong, cogent arguments.
Critique the conclusion. Note whether you feel the conclusion is a strong finish to the article or reads like a weak summary.
Check grammar and spelling if you're reading a friend's or classmate's paper. While you're rereading the research article, be alert for any typos. If you're not confident in your grammar, don't feel pressured to correct the article.
Examine the citations if you're reading a friend's or classmate's paper. The author should choose one citation style and use it consistently. Check that every direct quote has an accompanying citation.
Write a brief paragraph detailing your overall impressions. If it's written by an expert, focus mostly on whether you were convinced by his reasoning and evidence. If it's by a friend or classmate, focus on how strong the thesis was, whether you believe it was well-written and whether you were convinced by the arguments.
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