Critical review writing requires careful planning and drafting just like any other academic assignment. Skipping a single step or missing out on a particular part of a review paper may cost a lot to a student. If you have never written such a paper before or usually get low grades for this academic assignment, then we will help you solve the situation. We have made a guide that suggests what to focus on at each stage of the process and how to structure your critical review in the best way.
Structure of a Critical Review
Whether you are asked to do a critical review of a given book, chapter, or journal article, you need to carefully read the text, relate it to similar pieces, and present its rational/ practical evaluation. Of course, some papers might have different evaluation criteria determined by a discipline or academic establishment you study at. However, they usually have a “traditional” structure. To submit a flawless paper, you should check in detail assignment specs, such as formatting, discipline-determined criteria, source specs, etc.
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According to the best practice of critical review writing, your paper should consist of the following sections:
Each of the above parts performs its specific function; therefore, it cannot be skipped. Otherwise, the entire piece will lose its essence and will not deliver the intended message in full. Let’s go into detail so that you know what content to cover in a particular section of your critical paper and how to approach it better so that you can write a good essay.
As a rule, the introductory section takes 1 paragraph for a journal article review and 2-3 paragraphs for a longer book review. This part of a paper announces the author(s) and provides general information about the text subject reviewed further. The main function of the introduction is to present the main purpose of the text and state the key argument. Professional writers recommend concluding the introduction with your brief assessment statement of the text. Thus, a reader will know your response to the work being under study.
A summary is one of the key parts of your piece. It should cover the most important points along with explanations, examples, and facts supporting your evaluation statement. To write an all-covering summary, we recommend that you follow the below tips:
- Ensure that you cover the main issue/ question in every main point you write;
- Include the evidence the text uses/ provide examples and facts to support the argument;
- Make sure that you do not mix different main points raised in a single paragraph;
- Provide at least 3 supporting facts and related statements for a single argument;
- Make sure that your summary is easy to understand even for those who haven’t read the original piece;
- Make this section shorter than the evaluation part of your piece.
Taking into account the scope of works you need to do in order to create a winning summary, it would be a good idea to develop an outline where you cover all the main points. The paper outline should look like a checklist of statements, facts, and key points that you intend to cover in your paper. Think about your writing process in advance and include as many details as possible in your paper outline. In such a way, you can be sure that no important information is left out.
The evaluation (or the critique) section of your piece balanced discussion and assessment of the main strengths, weaknesses, and main features of the text. Just like in summary writing, working on the text evaluation requires not only your critical thinking ideas about the text but also other sources to support your evaluation.
There are different approaches to structuring the evaluation part of your critical review. Pick the one that works best for you:
- Start with the most important conclusions and go further to less significant ones;
- In the case of a positive critique, it is best to present positive points first and move to the negative assessment statements at the later point;
- When it comes to the mixed critique, decide on your overall judgement first. It is essential to base your discussion on specific criteria and have a dedicated paragraph for each criterion. Here, you can cover both your negative and positive points;
- For short pieces, you can include all positive aspects in two-three paragraphs and list all negative features in another part of the paper;
- Make sure that you include text improvement recommendations in your piece. These can address writing language, content ideas, research approach, or anything else that you think to make the original text better.
A conclusion is usually a short part of a critical review; it rarely takes more than one paragraph. The main function of a concluding paragraph is to restate your topic statement and list the strongest supporting ideas. It is important that you use different wording when you summarise your important points in a conclusion.
You may sometimes use other literature sources in your critical review, so it is necessary to include them in the reference list at the end of your paper.
It is sometimes difficult to format the reference page properly. If you are not an expert in academic citation styles and have no clue how a reference page should look like, let us handle it for you.
Critical writing can be a real challenge if you do not know how to approach the task correctly. We do hope that this post will guide you and help you plan your effort in the best way.