What is a Critical Review of a Journal Article?
A critical review of a journal article evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of an article's ideas and content. It provides description, analysis and interpretation that allow readers to assess the article's value.
Before You Read the Article
Reading the Article: Points to Consider
Read the article carefully. Record your impressions and note sections suitable for quoting.
Prepare an Outline
Read over your notes. Choose a statement that expresses the central purpose or thesis of your review. When thinking of a thesis, consider the author's intentions and whether or not you think those intentions were successfully realized. Eliminate all notes that do not relate to your thesis. Organize your remaining points into separate groups such as points about structure, style, or argument. Devise a logical sequence for presenting these ideas. Remember that all of your ideas must support your central thesis.
Write the First Draft
The review should begin with a complete citation of the article. For example:
Platt, Kevin M.F. "History and Despotism, or: Hayden White vs. Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great." Rethinking History 3:3 (1999) : 247-269.
NOTE: Use the same bibliographic citation format as you would for any bibliography, works cited or reference list. It will follow a standard documentation style such as MLA or APA.
Be sure to ask your instructor which citation style to use. For frequently used style guides consult Queen's University Library's Citing Sources guide.
The first paragraph may contain:
The body of the review should:
The concluding paragraph may:
Revise the First Draft
Ideally, you should leave your first draft for a day or two before revising. This allows you to gain a more objective perspective on your ideas. Check for the following when revising:
You may make major revisions in the organization or content of your review during the revision process. Revising can even lead to a radical change in your central thesis.
NOTE: Prepared by University of Toronto Mississauga Library, Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre.
Writing a Critical Review (Allyson Skene, The Writing Centre, U of Toronto at Scarborough)
The Book Review or Article Critique (Margaret Procter, Writing Support, University of Toronto)
Critical Reviews of Journal Articles (Herbert Coutts, University of Alberta)
Writing a Critical Review (The Writing Centre, Queen's University)