How to Write a Critique Paper: Tips + Critique Essay Examples

A critique paper is an academic writing genre that summarizes and gives a critical evaluation of a concept or work. Or, to put it simply, it is no more than a summary and a critical analysis of a specific issue. This type of writing aims to evaluate the impact of the given work or concept in its field.

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  • best tips on how to critique an article or a literary work,
  • a critique paper example with introduction, body, and conclusion.

💁 What Is a Critique Paper?

  • 👣 Critical Writing Steps

👀 Critical Essay Types

  • 📑 Format & Structure

🔗 References

A critique is a particular academic writing genre that requires you to carefully study, summarize, and critically analyze a study or a concept. In other words, it is nothing more than a critical analysis. That is all you are doing when writing a critical essay: trying to understand the work and present an evaluation. Critical essays can be either positive or negative, as the work deserves.

👣 How to Write a Critique Essay: Main Steps

Starting critique essays is the most challenging part. You are supposed to substantiate your opinion with quotes and paraphrases, avoiding retelling the entire text. A critical analysis aims to find out whether an article or another piece of writing is compelling. First, you need to formulate the author’s thesis: what was the literary work supposed to convey? Then, explore the text on how this main idea was elaborated. Finally, draft your critique according to the structure given below.

Critical Writing Steps Include: Critical Reading, Analyzing the Text, and Making the Draft.

Step 1: Critical Reading

1.1. Attentively read the literary work. While reading, make notes and underline the essentials.

  • Try to come into the author’s world and think why they wrote such a piece.
  • Point out which literary devices are successful. Some research in literary theory may be required.
  • Find out what you dislike about the text, i.e., controversies, gaps, inconsistency, or incompleteness.

1.2. Find or formulate the author’s thesis. 

  • What is the principal argument? In an article, it can be found in the first paragraph.
  • In a literary work, formulate one of the principal themes, as the thesis is not explicit.
  • If you write a critique of painting, find out what feelings, emotions, or ideas, the artist attempted to project.

1.3. Make a summary or synopsis of the analyzed text. 

  • One paragraph will suffice. You can use it in your critique essay, if necessary.
  • The point is to explore the gist.

Step 2: Analyzing the Text

After the reading phase, ask yourself the following questions :

  • What was your emotional response to the text? Which techniques, images, or ideas made you feel so?
  • Find out the author’s background. Which experiences made them raise such a thesis? What other significant works have they written that demonstrate the general direction of thought of this person?
  • Are the concepts used correctly in the text? Are the references reliable, and do they sufficiently substantiate the author’s opinion?

Step 3: Drafting the Essay

Finally, it is time to draft your essay. First of all, you’ll need to write a brief overview of the text you’re analyzing. Then, formulate a thesis statement – one sentence that will contain your opinion of the work under scrutiny. After that, make a one-paragraph summary of the text.

You can use this simple template for the draft version of your analysis. Another thing that can help you at this step is a summary creator to make the creative process more efficient.

Critique Paper Template

  • Start with an introductory phrase about the domain of the work in question.
  • Tell which work you are going to analyze, its author, and year of publication.
  • Specify the principal argument of the work under study.
  • In the third sentence, clearly state your thesis.
  • Here you can insert the summary you wrote before.
  • This is the only place where you can use it. No summary can be written in the main body!
  • Use one paragraph for every separate analyzed aspect of the text (style, organization, fairness/bias, etc.).
  • Each paragraph should confirm your thesis (e.g., whether the text is effective or ineffective).
  • Each paragraph shall start with a topic sentence, followed by evidence, and concluded with a statement referring to the thesis.
  • Provide a final judgment on the effectiveness of the piece of writing.
  • Summarize your main points and restate the thesis, indicating that everything you said above confirms it.

You can evaluate the chosen work or concept in several ways. Pick the one you feel more comfortable with from the following:

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  • Descriptive critical essays examine texts or other works. Their primary focus is usually on certain features of a work, and it is common to compare and contrast the subject of your analysis to a classic example of the genre to which it belongs.
  • Evaluative critical essays provide an estimate of the value of the work. Was it as good as you expected based on the recommendations, or do you feel your time would have been better spent on something else?
  • Interpretive essays provide your readers with answers that relate to the meaning of the work in question. To do this, you must select a method of determining the meaning, read/watch/observe your analysis subject using this method, and put forth an argument.

There are also different types of critiques. The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, in the article “ Writing critiques ,” discusses them as well as the appropriate critique language.

Critique Paper Topics

  • Critique of the article Is Google Making Us Stupid? by Nicholas Carr .   
  • Interpret the symbolism of Edgar Alan Poe’s The Black Cat .  
  • Examine the topicality of the article Impact of Racial/Ethnic Differences on Child Mental Health Care .  
  • Critical essay on Alice Walker’s short story Everyday Use .  
  • Discuss the value of the essay The Hanging by George Orwell .  
  • A critique on the article Stocks Versus Bonds : Explaining the Equity Risk Premium . 
  • Explore the themes Tennessee Williams reveals in The Glass Menagerie.   
  • Analyze the relevance of the article Leadership Characteristics and Digital Transformation .  
  • Critical evaluation of Jonathan Harvey’s play Beautiful Thing .   
  • Analyze and critique Derek Raymond’s story He Died with His Eyes Open .  
  • Discuss the techniques author uses to present the problem of choice in The Plague . 
  • Examine and evaluate the research article Using Evidence-Based Practice to Prevent Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia . 
  • Explore the scientific value of the article Our Future: A Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing . 
  • Describe the ideas E. Hemingway put into his A Clean, Well-Lighted Place .  
  • Analyze the literary qualities of Always Running La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L. A . 
  • Critical writing on The Incarnation of Power by Wright Mills . 
  • Explain the strengths and shortcomings of Tim Kreider’s article The Busy Trap .  
  • Critical response to Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway . 
  • Examine the main idea of Richard Godbeer’s book Escaping Salem .  
  • The strong and weak points of the article The Confusion of Tongues by William G. Bellshaw . 
  • Critical review of Gulliver’s Travels .  
  • Analyze the stylistic devices Anthony Lewis uses in Gideon’s Trumpet.  
  • Examine the techniques Elie Wiesel uses to show relationship transformation in the book Night .  
  • Critique of the play Fences by August Wilson . 
  • The role of exposition in Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart.  
  • The main themes John Maxwell discusses in his book Disgrace .  
  • Critical evaluation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 .  
  • The ideas and concept of the book The Vegetarian Imperative .  
  • Different points of view on one historical figure in the book Two Lives of Charlemagne .  

📑 Critique Paper: Format & Structure

The main parts of good critical response essays are:

  • Summary. This should be brief and to the point. Only the author’s/creator’s main ideas and arguments should be included.
  • Analysis/interpretation. Discuss what the author’s/creator’s primary goal was and determine whether this goal was reached successfully. Use the evidence you have gathered to argue whether or not the author/creator achieved was adequately convincing (remember there should be no personal bias in this discussion).
  • Evaluation/response. At this point, your readers are ready to learn your objective response to the work. It should be professional yet entertaining to read. Do not hesitate to use strong language. You can say that the work you analyzed was weak and poorly-structured if that is the case, but keep in mind that you have to have evidence to back up your claim.

Critique Paper Introduction

The introduction is setting the stage for your analysis. Here are some tips to follow when working on it:

  • Provide the reader with a brief synopsis of the main points of the work you are critiquing .
  • State your general opinion of the work , using it as your thesis statement. The ideal situation is that you identify and use a controversial thesis.
  • Remember that you will uncover a lot of necessary information about the work you are critiquing. You mustn’t make use of all of it, providing the reader with information that is unnecessary in your critique. If you are writing about Shakespeare, you don’t have to waste your or your reader’s time going through all of his works.

Critique Paper Body

The body of the critique contains the supporting paragraphs. This is where you will provide the facts that prove your main idea and support your thesis. Follow the tips below when writing the body of your critique.

  • Every paragraph must focus on a precise concept from the paper under your scrutiny , and your job is to include arguments to support or disprove that concept. Concrete evidence is required.
  • A critical essay is written in the third-person and ensures the reader is presented with an objective analysis.
  • Discuss whether the author was able to achieve their goals and adequately get their point across.
  • It is important not to confuse facts and opinions . An opinion is a personal thought and requires confirmation, whereas a fact is supported by reliable data and requires no further proof. Do not back up one idea with another one.
  • Remember that your purpose is to provide the reader with an understanding of a particular piece of literature or other work from your perspective. Be as specific as possible.

Critique Paper Conclusion

Finally, you will need to write a conclusion for your critique. The conclusion reasserts your overall general opinion of the ideas presented in the text and ensures there is no doubt in the reader’s mind about what you believe and why. Follow these tips when writing your conclusion:

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  • Summarize the analysis you provided in the body of the critique.
  • Summarize the primary reasons why you made your analysis .
  • Where appropriate, provide recommendations on how the work you critiqued can be improved.

For more details on how to write a critique, check out the great critique analysis template provided by Thompson Rivers University.

If you want more information on essay writing in general, look at the Secrets of Essay Writing .

📚 Critique Essay Examples

With all of the information and tips provided above, your way will become clearer when you have a solid example of a critique essay.

Below is a critical response to The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

When speaking of feminist literature that is prominent and manages to touch on incredibly controversial issues, The Yellow Wallpaper is the first book that comes to mind. Written from a first-person perspective, magnifying the effect of the narrative, the short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman introduces the reader to the problem of the physical and mental health of the women of the 19th century. However, the message that is intended to concern feminist ideas is rather subtle. Written in the form of several diary entries, the novel offers a mysterious plot, and at the same time, shockingly realistic details.

What really stands out about the novel is the fact that the reader is never really sure how much of the story takes place in reality and how much of it happens in the psychotic mind of the protagonist. In addition, the novel contains a plethora of description that contributes to the strain and enhances the correlation between the atmosphere and the protagonist’s fears: “The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight” (Gilman).

Despite Gilman’s obvious intent to make the novel a feminist story with a dash of thriller thrown in, the result is instead a thriller with a dash of feminism, as Allen (2009) explains. However, there is no doubt that the novel is a renowned classic. Offering a perfect portrayal of the 19th-century stereotypes, it is a treasure that is certainly worth the read.

If you need another critique essay example, take a look at our sample on “ The Importance of Being Earnest ” by Oscar Wilde.

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And here are some more critique paper examples for you check out:

  • A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Critique Paper
  • Critique on “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • “When the Five Rights Go Wrong” Article Critique
  • Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey — Comparison & Critique
  • “The TrueBlue Study”: Qualitative Article Critique
  • Ethical Conflict Associated With Managed Care: Views of Nurse Practitioners’: Article Critique
  • Benefits and Disadvantages of Prone Positioning in Severe Acute Respiratory Distress: Article Critique
  • Reducing Stress in Student Nurses: Article Critique
  • Management of Change and Professional Safety – Article Critique
  • “Views of Young People Towards Physical Activity”: Article Critique

Seeing an example of a critique is so helpful. You can find many other examples of a critique paper at the University of Minnesota and John Hopkins University. Plus, you can check out this video for a great explanation of how to write a critique.

  • Critical Analysis
  • Writing an Article Critique
  • The Critique Essay
  • Critique Essay
  • Writing a Critique
  • Writing A Book Critique
  • Media Critique
  • Tips for an Effective Creative Writing Critique
  • How to Write an Article Critique
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Writing a Critique

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A critique (or critical review) is not to be mistaken for a literature review. A 'critical review', or 'critique', is a complete type of text (or genre), discussing one particular article or book in detail.  In some instances, you may be asked to write a critique of two or three articles (e.g. a comparative critical review). In contrast, a 'literature review', which also needs to be 'critical', is a part of a larger type of text, such as a chapter of your dissertation.

Most importantly: Read your article / book as many times as possible, as this will make the critical review much easier.

1. Read and take notes 2. Organising your writing 3. Summary 4. Evaluation 5. Linguistic features of a critical review 6. Summary language 7. Evaluation language 8. Conclusion language 9. Example extracts from a critical review 10. Further resources

Read and Take Notes

To improve your reading confidence and efficiency, visit our pages on reading.

Further reading: Read Confidently

After you are familiar with the text, make notes on some of the following questions. Choose the questions which seem suitable:

  • What kind of article is it (for example does it present data or does it present purely theoretical arguments)?
  • What is the main area under discussion?
  • What are the main findings?
  • What are the stated limitations?
  • Where does the author's data and evidence come from? Are they appropriate / sufficient?
  • What are the main issues raised by the author?
  • What questions are raised?
  • How well are these questions addressed?
  • What are the major points/interpretations made by the author in terms of the issues raised?
  • Is the text balanced? Is it fair / biased?
  • Does the author contradict herself?
  • How does all this relate to other literature on this topic?
  • How does all this relate to your own experience, ideas and views?
  • What else has this author written? Do these build / complement this text?
  • (Optional) Has anyone else reviewed this article? What did they say? Do I agree with them?

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Organising your writing

You first need to summarise the text that you have read. One reason to summarise the text is that the reader may not have read the text. In your summary, you will

  • focus on points within the article that you think are interesting
  • summarise the author(s) main ideas or argument
  • explain how these ideas / argument have been constructed. (For example, is the author basing her arguments on data that they have collected? Are the main ideas / argument purely theoretical?)

In your summary you might answer the following questions:     Why is this topic important?     Where can this text be located? For example, does it address policy studies?     What other prominent authors also write about this?

Evaluation is the most important part in a critical review.

Use the literature to support your views. You may also use your knowledge of conducting research, and your own experience. Evaluation can be explicit or implicit.

Explicit evaluation

Explicit evaluation involves stating directly (explicitly) how you intend to evaluate the text. e.g. "I will review this article by focusing on the following questions. First, I will examine the extent to which the authors contribute to current thought on Second Language Acquisition (SLA) pedagogy. After that, I will analyse whether the authors' propositions are feasible within overseas SLA classrooms."

Implicit evaluation

Implicit evaluation is less direct. The following section on Linguistic Features of Writing a Critical Review contains language that evaluates the text. A difficult part of evaluation of a published text (and a professional author) is how to do this as a student. There is nothing wrong with making your position as a student explicit and incorporating it into your evaluation. Examples of how you might do this can be found in the section on Linguistic Features of Writing a Critical Review. You need to remember to locate and analyse the author's argument when you are writing your critical review. For example, you need to locate the authors' view of classroom pedagogy as presented in the book / article and not present a critique of views of classroom pedagogy in general.

Linguistic features of a critical review

The following examples come from published critical reviews. Some of them have been adapted for student use.

Summary language

  •     This article / book is divided into two / three parts. First...
  •     While the title might suggest...
  •     The tone appears to be...
  •     Title is the first / second volume in the series Title, edited by...The books / articles in this series address...
  •     The second / third claim is based on...
  •     The author challenges the notion that...
  •     The author tries to find a more middle ground / make more modest claims...
  •     The article / book begins with a short historical overview of...
  •     Numerous authors have recently suggested that...(see Author, Year; Author, Year). Author would also be once such author. With his / her argument that...
  •     To refer to title as a...is not to say that it is...
  •     This book / article is aimed at... This intended readership...
  •     The author's book / article examines the...To do this, the author first...
  •     The author develops / suggests a theoretical / pedagogical model to…
  •     This book / article positions itself firmly within the field of...
  •     The author in a series of subtle arguments, indicates that he / she...
  •     The argument is therefore...
  •     The author asks "..."
  •     With a purely critical / postmodern take on...
  •     Topic, as the author points out, can be viewed as...
  •     In this recent contribution to the field of...this British author...
  •     As a leading author in the field of...
  •     This book / article nicely contributes to the field of...and complements other work by this author...
  •     The second / third part of...provides / questions / asks the reader...
  •     Title is intended to encourage students / researchers to...
  •     The approach taken by the author provides the opportunity to examine...in a qualitative / quantitative research framework that nicely complements...
  •     The author notes / claims that state support / a focus on pedagogy / the adoption of...remains vital if...
  •     According to Author (Year) teaching towards examinations is not as effective as it is in other areas of the curriculum. This is because, as Author (Year) claims that examinations have undue status within the curriculum.
  •     According to Author (Year)…is not as effective in some areas of the curriculum / syllabus as others. Therefore the author believes that this is a reason for some school's…

Evaluation language

  •     This argument is not entirely convincing, as...furthermore it commodifies / rationalises the...
  •     Over the last five / ten years the view of...has increasingly been viewed as 'complicated' (see Author, Year; Author, Year).
  •     However, through trying to integrate...with...the author...
  •     There are difficulties with such a position.
  •     Inevitably, several crucial questions are left unanswered / glossed over by this insightful / timely / interesting / stimulating book / article. Why should...
  •     It might have been more relevant for the author to have written this book / article as...
  •     This article / book is not without disappointment from those who would view...as...
  •     This chosen framework enlightens / clouds...
  •     This analysis intends to be...but falls a little short as...
  •     The authors rightly conclude that if...
  •     A detailed, well-written and rigorous account of...
  •     As a Korean student I feel that this article / book very clearly illustrates...
  •     The beginning of...provides an informative overview into...
  •     The tables / figures do little to help / greatly help the reader...
  •     The reaction by scholars who take a...approach might not be so favourable (e.g. Author, Year).
  •     This explanation has a few weaknesses that other researchers have pointed out (see Author, Year; Author, Year). The first is...
  •     On the other hand, the author wisely suggests / proposes that...By combining these two dimensions...
  •     The author's brief introduction to...may leave the intended reader confused as it fails to properly...
  •     Despite my inability to...I was greatly interested in...
  •     Even where this reader / I disagree(s), the author's effort to...
  •     The author thus combines...with...to argue...which seems quite improbable for a number of reasons. First...
  •     Perhaps this aversion to...would explain the author's reluctance to...
  •     As a second language student from ...I find it slightly ironic that such an anglo-centric view is...
  •     The reader is rewarded with...
  •     Less convincing is the broad-sweeping generalisation that...
  •     There is no denying the author's subject knowledge nor his / her...
  •     The author's prose is dense and littered with unnecessary jargon...
  •     The author's critique of...might seem harsh but is well supported within the literature (see Author, Year; Author, Year; Author, Year). Aligning herself with the author, Author (Year) states that...
  •     As it stands, the central focus of Title is well / poorly supported by its empirical findings...
  •     Given the hesitation to generalise to...the limitation of...does not seem problematic...
  •     For instance, the term...is never properly defined and the reader left to guess as to whether...
  •     Furthermore, to label...as...inadvertently misguides...
  •     In addition, this research proves to be timely / especially significant to... as recent government policy / proposals has / have been enacted to...
  •     On this well researched / documented basis the author emphasises / proposes that...
  •     Nonetheless, other research / scholarship / data tend to counter / contradict this possible trend / assumption...(see Author, Year; Author, Year).
  •     Without entering into detail of the..., it should be stated that Title should be read by...others will see little value in...
  •     As experimental conditions were not used in the study the word 'significant' misleads the reader.
  •     The article / book becomes repetitious in its assertion that...
  •     The thread of the author's argument becomes lost in an overuse of empirical data...
  •     Almost every argument presented in the final section is largely derivative, providing little to say about...
  •     She / he does not seem to take into consideration; however, that there are fundamental differences in the conditions of…
  •     As Author (Year) points out, however, it seems to be necessary to look at…
  •     This suggest that having low…does not necessarily indicate that…is ineffective.
  •     Therefore, the suggestion made by Author (Year)…is difficult to support.
  •     When considering all the data presented…it is not clear that the low scores of some students, indeed, reflects…

Conclusion language

  •     Overall this article / book is an analytical look at...which within the field of...is often overlooked.
  •     Despite its problems, Title offers valuable theoretical insights / interesting examples / a contribution to pedagogy and a starting point for students / researchers of...with an interest in...
  •     This detailed and rigorously argued...
  •     This first / second volume / book / article by...with an interest in...is highly informative...

Example extracts from a critical review

Writing critically.

If you have been told your writing is not critical enough, it probably means that your writing treats the knowledge claims as if they are true, well supported, and applicable in the context you are writing about. This may not always be the case.

In these two examples, the extracts refer to the same section of text. In each example, the section that refers to a source has been highlighted in bold. The note below the example then explains how the writer has used the source material.    

There is a strong positive effect on students, both educationally and emotionally, when the instructors try to learn to say students' names without making pronunciation errors (Kiang, 2004).

Use of source material in example a: 

This is a simple paraphrase with no critical comment. It looks like the writer agrees with Kiang. (This is not a good example for critical writing, as the writer has not made any critical comment).        

Kiang (2004) gives various examples to support his claim that "the positive emotional and educational impact on students is clear" (p.210) when instructors try to pronounce students' names in the correct way. He quotes one student, Nguyet, as saying that he "felt surprised and happy" (p.211) when the tutor said his name clearly . The emotional effect claimed by Kiang is illustrated in quotes such as these, although the educational impact is supported more indirectly through the chapter. Overall, he provides more examples of students being negatively affected by incorrect pronunciation, and it is difficult to find examples within the text of a positive educational impact as such.

Use of source material in example b: 

The writer describes Kiang's (2004) claim and the examples which he uses to try to support it. The writer then comments that the examples do not seem balanced and may not be enough to support the claims fully. This is a better example of writing which expresses criticality.

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Further resources

You may also be interested in our page on criticality, which covers criticality in general, and includes more critical reading questions.

Further reading: Read and Write Critically

We recommend that you do not search for other university guidelines on critical reviews. This is because the expectations may be different at other institutions. Ask your tutor for more guidance or examples if you have further questions.

IOE Writing Centre Online

Self-access resources from the Academic Writing Centre at the UCL Institute of Education.

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Writing Critiques

Writing a critique involves more than pointing out mistakes. It involves conducting a systematic analysis of a scholarly article or book and then writing a fair and reasonable description of its strengths and weaknesses. Several scholarly journals have published guides for critiquing other people’s work in their academic area. Search for a  “manuscript reviewer guide” in your own discipline to guide your analysis of the content. Use this handout as an orientation to the audience and purpose of different types of critiques and to the linguistic strategies appropriate to all of them.

Types of critique

Article or book review assignment in an academic class.

Text: Article or book that has already been published Audience: Professors Purpose:

  • to demonstrate your skills for close reading and analysis
  • to show that you understand key concepts in your field
  • to learn how to review a manuscript for your future professional work

Published book review

Text: Book that has already been published Audience: Disciplinary colleagues Purpose:

  • to describe the book’s contents
  • to summarize the book’s strengths and weaknesses
  • to provide a reliable recommendation to read (or not read) the book

Manuscript review

Text: Manuscript that has been submitted but has not been published yet Audience: Journal editor and manuscript authors Purpose:

  • to provide the editor with an evaluation of the manuscript
  • to recommend to the editor that the article be published, revised, or rejected
  • to provide the authors with constructive feedback and reasonable suggestions for revision

Language strategies for critiquing

For each type of critique, it’s important to state your praise, criticism, and suggestions politely, but with the appropriate level of strength. The following language structures should help you achieve this challenging task.

Offering Praise and Criticism

A strategy called “hedging” will help you express praise or criticism with varying levels of strength. It will also help you express varying levels of certainty in your own assertions. Grammatical structures used for hedging include:

Modal verbs Using modal verbs (could, can, may, might, etc.) allows you to soften an absolute statement. Compare:

This text is inappropriate for graduate students who are new to the field. This text may be inappropriate for graduate students who are new to the field.

Qualifying adjectives and adverbs Using qualifying adjectives and adverbs (possible, likely, possibly, somewhat, etc.) allows you to introduce a level of probability into your comments. Compare:

Readers will find the theoretical model difficult to understand. Some readers will find the theoretical model difficult to understand. Some readers will probably find the theoretical model somewhat difficult to understand completely.

Note: You can see from the last example that too many qualifiers makes the idea sound undesirably weak.

Tentative verbs Using tentative verbs (seems, indicates, suggests, etc.) also allows you to soften an absolute statement. Compare:

This omission shows that the authors are not aware of the current literature. This omission indicates that the authors are not aware of the current literature. This omission seems to suggest that the authors are not aware of the current literature.

Offering suggestions

Whether you are critiquing a published or unpublished text, you are expected to point out problems and suggest solutions. If you are critiquing an unpublished manuscript, the author can use your suggestions to revise. Your suggestions have the potential to become real actions. If you are critiquing a published text, the author cannot revise, so your suggestions are purely hypothetical. These two situations require slightly different grammar.

Unpublished manuscripts: “would be X if they did Y” Reviewers commonly point out weakness by pointing toward improvement. For instance, if the problem is “unclear methodology,” reviewers may write that “the methodology would be more clear if …” plus a suggestion. If the author can use the suggestions to revise, the grammar is “X would be better if the authors did Y” (would be + simple past suggestion).

The tables would be clearer if the authors highlighted the key results. The discussion would be more persuasive if the authors accounted for the discrepancies in the data.

Published manuscripts: “would have been X if they had done Y” If the authors cannot revise based on your suggestions, use the past unreal conditional form “X would have been better if the authors had done Y” (would have been + past perfect suggestion).

The tables would have been clearer if the authors had highlighted key results. The discussion would have been more persuasive if the authors had accounted for discrepancies in the data.

Note: For more information on conditional structures, see our Conditionals handout .

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How to Write Critical Reviews

When you are asked to write a critical review of a book or article, you will need to identify, summarize, and evaluate the ideas and information the author has presented. In other words, you will be examining another person’s thoughts on a topic from your point of view.

Your stand must go beyond your “gut reaction” to the work and be based on your knowledge (readings, lecture, experience) of the topic as well as on factors such as criteria stated in your assignment or discussed by you and your instructor.

Make your stand clear at the beginning of your review, in your evaluations of specific parts, and in your concluding commentary.

Remember that your goal should be to make a few key points about the book or article, not to discuss everything the author writes.

Understanding the Assignment

To write a good critical review, you will have to engage in the mental processes of analyzing (taking apart) the work–deciding what its major components are and determining how these parts (i.e., paragraphs, sections, or chapters) contribute to the work as a whole.

Analyzing the work will help you focus on how and why the author makes certain points and prevent you from merely summarizing what the author says. Assuming the role of an analytical reader will also help you to determine whether or not the author fulfills the stated purpose of the book or article and enhances your understanding or knowledge of a particular topic.

Be sure to read your assignment thoroughly before you read the article or book. Your instructor may have included specific guidelines for you to follow. Keeping these guidelines in mind as you read the article or book can really help you write your paper!

Also, note where the work connects with what you’ve studied in the course. You can make the most efficient use of your reading and notetaking time if you are an active reader; that is, keep relevant questions in mind and jot down page numbers as well as your responses to ideas that appear to be significant as you read.

Please note: The length of your introduction and overview, the number of points you choose to review, and the length of your conclusion should be proportionate to the page limit stated in your assignment and should reflect the complexity of the material being reviewed as well as the expectations of your reader.

Write the introduction

Below are a few guidelines to help you write the introduction to your critical review.

Introduce your review appropriately

Begin your review with an introduction appropriate to your assignment.

If your assignment asks you to review only one book and not to use outside sources, your introduction will focus on identifying the author, the title, the main topic or issue presented in the book, and the author’s purpose in writing the book.

If your assignment asks you to review the book as it relates to issues or themes discussed in the course, or to review two or more books on the same topic, your introduction must also encompass those expectations.

Explain relationships

For example, before you can review two books on a topic, you must explain to your reader in your introduction how they are related to one another.

Within this shared context (or under this “umbrella”) you can then review comparable aspects of both books, pointing out where the authors agree and differ.

In other words, the more complicated your assignment is, the more your introduction must accomplish.

Finally, the introduction to a book review is always the place for you to establish your position as the reviewer (your thesis about the author’s thesis).

As you write, consider the following questions:

  • Is the book a memoir, a treatise, a collection of facts, an extended argument, etc.? Is the article a documentary, a write-up of primary research, a position paper, etc.?
  • Who is the author? What does the preface or foreword tell you about the author’s purpose, background, and credentials? What is the author’s approach to the topic (as a journalist? a historian? a researcher?)?
  • What is the main topic or problem addressed? How does the work relate to a discipline, to a profession, to a particular audience, or to other works on the topic?
  • What is your critical evaluation of the work (your thesis)? Why have you taken that position? What criteria are you basing your position on?

Provide an overview

In your introduction, you will also want to provide an overview. An overview supplies your reader with certain general information not appropriate for including in the introduction but necessary to understanding the body of the review.

Generally, an overview describes your book’s division into chapters, sections, or points of discussion. An overview may also include background information about the topic, about your stand, or about the criteria you will use for evaluation.

The overview and the introduction work together to provide a comprehensive beginning for (a “springboard” into) your review.

  • What are the author’s basic premises? What issues are raised, or what themes emerge? What situation (i.e., racism on college campuses) provides a basis for the author’s assertions?
  • How informed is my reader? What background information is relevant to the entire book and should be placed here rather than in a body paragraph?

Write the body

The body is the center of your paper, where you draw out your main arguments. Below are some guidelines to help you write it.

Organize using a logical plan

Organize the body of your review according to a logical plan. Here are two options:

  • First, summarize, in a series of paragraphs, those major points from the book that you plan to discuss; incorporating each major point into a topic sentence for a paragraph is an effective organizational strategy. Second, discuss and evaluate these points in a following group of paragraphs. (There are two dangers lurking in this pattern–you may allot too many paragraphs to summary and too few to evaluation, or you may re-summarize too many points from the book in your evaluation section.)
  • Alternatively, you can summarize and evaluate the major points you have chosen from the book in a point-by-point schema. That means you will discuss and evaluate point one within the same paragraph (or in several if the point is significant and warrants extended discussion) before you summarize and evaluate point two, point three, etc., moving in a logical sequence from point to point to point. Here again, it is effective to use the topic sentence of each paragraph to identify the point from the book that you plan to summarize or evaluate.

Questions to keep in mind as you write

With either organizational pattern, consider the following questions:

  • What are the author’s most important points? How do these relate to one another? (Make relationships clear by using transitions: “In contrast,” an equally strong argument,” “moreover,” “a final conclusion,” etc.).
  • What types of evidence or information does the author present to support his or her points? Is this evidence convincing, controversial, factual, one-sided, etc.? (Consider the use of primary historical material, case studies, narratives, recent scientific findings, statistics.)
  • Where does the author do a good job of conveying factual material as well as personal perspective? Where does the author fail to do so? If solutions to a problem are offered, are they believable, misguided, or promising?
  • Which parts of the work (particular arguments, descriptions, chapters, etc.) are most effective and which parts are least effective? Why?
  • Where (if at all) does the author convey personal prejudice, support illogical relationships, or present evidence out of its appropriate context?

Keep your opinions distinct and cite your sources

Remember, as you discuss the author’s major points, be sure to distinguish consistently between the author’s opinions and your own.

Keep the summary portions of your discussion concise, remembering that your task as a reviewer is to re-see the author’s work, not to re-tell it.

And, importantly, if you refer to ideas from other books and articles or from lecture and course materials, always document your sources, or else you might wander into the realm of plagiarism.

Include only that material which has relevance for your review and use direct quotations sparingly. The Writing Center has other handouts to help you paraphrase text and introduce quotations.

Write the conclusion

You will want to use the conclusion to state your overall critical evaluation.

You have already discussed the major points the author makes, examined how the author supports arguments, and evaluated the quality or effectiveness of specific aspects of the book or article.

Now you must make an evaluation of the work as a whole, determining such things as whether or not the author achieves the stated or implied purpose and if the work makes a significant contribution to an existing body of knowledge.

Consider the following questions:

  • Is the work appropriately subjective or objective according to the author’s purpose?
  • How well does the work maintain its stated or implied focus? Does the author present extraneous material? Does the author exclude or ignore relevant information?
  • How well has the author achieved the overall purpose of the book or article? What contribution does the work make to an existing body of knowledge or to a specific group of readers? Can you justify the use of this work in a particular course?
  • What is the most important final comment you wish to make about the book or article? Do you have any suggestions for the direction of future research in the area? What has reading this work done for you or demonstrated to you?

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Academic and Professional Writing

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Analysis Papers

Reading Poetry

A Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis

Using Literary Quotations

Play Reviews

Writing a Rhetorical Précis to Analyze Nonfiction Texts

Incorporating Interview Data

Grant Proposals

Planning and Writing a Grant Proposal: The Basics

Additional Resources for Grants and Proposal Writing

Job Materials and Application Essays

Writing Personal Statements for Ph.D. Programs

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Cover Letters

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Planning and Writing Research Papers

Quoting and Paraphrasing

Writing Annotated Bibliographies

Creating Poster Presentations

Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper

Thank-You Notes

Advice for Students Writing Thank-You Notes to Donors

Reading for a Review

Critical Reviews

Writing a Review of Literature

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Writing for Social Media: A Guide for Academics

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Chapter 8: Being Critical

8.1 What Makes a Critique a Critique?

Learning Objectives

  • Define what it means to critique
  • Explain the differences between a critique and other essay forms

This section will introduce you to another essay form instructors often ask their students to produce: the critique.

A critique is a written work critically analyzing or evaluating another piece of writing; also known as a review or critical response.

What Is a Critique?

When you see the word critique , the first thing you may think of is to criticize . In actuality, critiques do not need to look only at the negative aspects of a source; they can also focus on the positive components or even have a mix of the positive and negative elements. They are critical response papers analyzing and evaluating an original source , such as the academic journal article you are being asked to use for this assignment.

Self-Practice Exercise 8.1

H5P: Reading Critical Response

Read the following short critique, and then come up with a list of elements you believe make this a critique as opposed to an expository paper.

Vetter and Perlstein’s work on terrorism and its future is an excellent basis for evaluating views and attitudes to terrorism before the tragic events of 9/11. Written in 1991, the book provides an objective (but more theoretical) view on what terrorism is, how it can be categorized, and to what ideology it can be linked. Perspectives on Terrorism is a multifaceted review of numerous factors that impact and influence the global development of terrorism; those studying sociology or criminal justice might find ample information regarding the ideological roots and typology of terrorism as a phenomenon and as a specific type of violent ideology that has gradually turned into a dominant force of political change.

Vetter and Perlstein (1991) begin their work with the words “it has almost become pro forma for writers on terrorism to begin by pointing out how hard it is to define the term terrorism.” However, the authors do not waste their time trying to define what terrorism is; rather, they are trying to look at terrorism through the prism of its separate elements, and objectively evaluate the concept of public acceptability of terrorism as a notion. Trying to answer the two critical questions “why surrogate the war?” and “who sponsors terrorism?” Vetter and Perlstein (1991) evaluate terrorism as a unjustifiable method of violence for the sake of unachievable goals, tying the notion of terrorism to the notion of morality.

To define terrorism in its present form it is not enough to determine the roots and the consequences of particular terrorist act; nor is it enough to evaluate the roots and the social implications of particular behavioural characteristics beyond morality. On the contrary, it is essential to tie terrorism to particular political conditions, in which these terrorist acts take place. In other words, whether the specific political act is terrorist or non-terrorist depends on the thorough examination of the social factors beyond morality and law. In this context, even without an opportunity to find the most relevant definition of terrorism, the authors thoroughly analyze the most important factors and sociological perspectives of terrorism, including the notion of threat, violence, publicity, and fear.

Typology of terrorism is the integral component of our current understanding of what terrorism is, what form it may take, and how we can prepare ourselves to facing the challenges of terrorist threats. Vetter and Perlstein (1991) state that “finding similarities and differences among objects and events is the first step toward determining their composition, functions, and causes.” Trying to evaluate the usefulness of various theoretical perspectives in terrorism, the authors offer a detailed review of psychological, sociological, and political elements that form several different typologies of terrorism. For example, Vetter and Perlstein (1991) refer to the psychiatrist Frederick Hacker, who classifies terrorists into crazies, criminals, and crusaders. Later throughout the book, Vetter and Perlstein provide a detailed analysis of both the criminal and the crazy types of terrorists, paying special attention to who crusaders are and what role they play in the development and expansion of contemporary terrorist ideology. Vetter and Perlstein recognize that it is almost impossible to encounter an ideal type of terrorist, but the basic knowledge of terrorist typology may shed the light onto the motivation and psychological mechanisms that push criminals (and particularly crusaders) to committing the acts of political violence.

Perspectives on Terrorism pays special attention to the politics of terrorism, and the role, which ideology plays in the development of terrorist attitudes in society. “Violence or terrorism can be used both by those who seek to change or destroy the existing government or social order and those who seek to maintain the status quo” (Vetter & Perlstein, 1991). In other words, the authors suggest that political ideology is integrally linked to the notion of terrorism. With ideology being the central element of political change, it necessarily impacts the quality of the political authority within the state; as a result, the image of terrorism is gradually transformed into a critical triangle with political authority, power, and violence at its ends. In their book, Vetter and Perlstein (1991) use this triangle as the basis for analyzing the political assumptions, which are usually made in terms of terrorism, as well as the extent to which political authority may make violence (and as a result, terrorism) legally permissible. The long sociological theme of terrorism that is stretched from the very beginning to the very end of the book makes it particularly useful to those who seek the roots of terrorism in the distorted political ideology and blame the state as the source and the reason of terrorist violence.

Vetter, H.J. & Perlstein, G.R. (1991). Perspectives on terrorism (Contemporary issues in crime and justice). Pacific Grove, CA, USA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

Taken from: http://www.custom-essays.org/examples/Perspectives_on_Terrorism_Essay_Vetter__Perlstein.html

List three to five elements you think make this a critique.

How a Critique Is Different

A critique is different from an expository essay which is, as you have learned, a discussion revolving around a topic with multiple sources to support the discussion points. As you can see in Self – Practice Exercise 8.1 , depending on the type of critique you are writing, your reference page could include one source only. However, as you may discuss topical ideas within the original source, you may also want to include secondary sources to which you can compare and contrast the original source’s ideas, but you need to always connect your discussion points back to the original source. Figure 8.1: Critiquing v ersus Other Essay Forms shows visual representations of what a critique structure could look in comparison to another essay, such as one that is expository or persuasive in purpose.

a mind map for a critique essay, image described in the following text

If you look at the mind map for the critique, you can see how all of the discussion points stem from and relate back to the original article and how all of the discussion points can be interconnected. Also, the bubble labelled Secondary Sources/Support shows you can integrate secondary sources to compare and contrast when discussing either rhetorical or idea points. In the second diagram, you can see that the supporting ideas relate to the central topic, but they are extensions of the topic each with their own supporting forms of evidence. There is less emphasis placed on synthesis of ideas, although this is something you can still do when composing this type of essay.

The Purpose of Critiquing

In a post-secondary environment, your instructors will expect you to demonstrate critical thinking skills that go beyond simply taking another person’s ideas and spitting out facts. They will want you to show your ability to assess and analyze any type of information you use; they will also want to see that you have used sources to develop ideas of your own. Critiquing, or critical analysis, demonstrates you are able to connect ideas, arrive at your own conclusions, and develop new directions for discussion. You are also showing you have strong background knowledge on the topic in order to provide feedback on another person’s discussion on the issue.

Critical analysis appears in many forms in the academic world. It is present when you select appropriate sources for your support; you practise it when you choose what information from those sources to include as your evidence; you demonstrate it when you start breaking down your topic to develop discussion points. Very importantly, you also use critical analysis or thinking when you synthesize, or blend, your ideas with those of experts. This means you go beyond a statement of facts and take a stance on a topic. In this case of a critique, you not only state your view on an idea or issue but also on one core source of information on that topic: you insert your ideas into the text’s conversation.

Elements of a Critique

Often people go online for to read reviews of services or products. They sometimes make personal choices based on those reviews, such as what movie to go to or which restaurant to eat at. When you ask for a recommendation, the person you are asking will usually give you a brief summary of the experience then break his or her opinion down into smaller aspects—good and bad. For example, imagine you want to visit a new restaurant, and you ask your friend to recommend a place. Here is a sample response:

There is an amazing Japanese restaurant called Mega Sushi at the corner of Main and 12th. The food, atmosphere, and service are great. The food is always excellent, and they have a lot of original creations or spins on traditional Japanese food, but it still tastes authentic. The ingredients are always incredibly fresh, and you never have to worry about ordering the sashimi. The decor is also very authentic and classic, and the entire place is incredibly clean.

The service is generally very good—they even bring you a free sample roll while you wait for your food—but it can be a little slow during the dinner rush because it is such a popular place. Also, the prices are a little high because an average roll costs $15, but for the amazing food you get, it is totally worth it! I love this place!

When you break this example into sections, you can see the first and second sentences give the reviewer’s general opinion of the restaurant; they also summarize the main components the reviewer will cover. The review is then broken into smaller categories or points. Notice that not all the points covered are positive: while the food and atmosphere are good, the service has both positive and negative aspects but is overall good. Also, the prices are high, but the writer states that people who eat there get good value for their money. Providing a generalized description first, the reviewer introduced the topic to the audience; she then analyzed individual aspects or components of the experience with examples to help convince the audience of her perspective. Not everyone may have the same positive experience, of course. What if it was someone’s first time at this particular restaurant, and she arrived during the dinner rush feeling very hungry and had to wait a long time for a table? Not knowing how good the food is and that it is worth the wait, she may just leave, so her general impression of the restaurant would probably not be favourable. Whether the experience would be positive or negative would depend on an individual’s personal experience and situation. The same is true for any critique. No two people will have exactly the same response to a source because of who they are, the time, and their prior experiences. When critiquing, you are responding to anything that sparks a response in you when you are reading a source. When reading your article, pay close attention to any time you have to reread a sentence or paragraph. Make note of this; at the time you may not know why you have an issue with that section. Just realize that there was a point where you had to stop and make a notation of some sort on the paper. Once you have finished reading, you can go back and think about what the issue actually was. Maybe the vocabulary was difficult; maybe the author’s grammar was awkward and confusing; maybe the ideas did not make sense how they were organized; maybe you completely disagreed with the idea the author presented. Also, maybe something you read really sparked your interest, and you have the same opinion as the author, or perhaps the vocabulary was academic but not overly challenging where you would need to use a dictionary (the guiding questions for each critique form provided below will help you with this). All of these responses are valid and are things you can write about in your critique. Any critique, no matter if it is of a book, an article, or a movie, needs to contain the following elements:

  • Example: In Smith’s (2009) article, he effectively argues his case for the reinstatement of capital punishment in Canada.
  • This would be the same as if you were writing a summary of any source you read.
  • You will decide on these points based on your reactions and personal preferences using the guiding questions for each of the forms below as suggestions.

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Critique vs. Criticism: How to Write a Good Critique, with Examples

critique vs essay

by Daniel Rodrigues-Martin

Understanding critique vs. criticism

We all assign merit to the information we experience daily. We “judge” what we hear on the news. We “evaluate” a university lecture. We “like” or “dislike” a movie, a meal, a photo, a story. We’re all critics.

Some writer-readers struggle with this point, especially if they are young to writing and editing. Sitting in a judgment of another writer’s work often feels distasteful, and doing so may conjure negative memories of when we were misunderstood or dismissed by others.

Conversely, we might be willing to share our opinions with other writers while struggling with our competence. We can’t seem to say anything constructive. If we’re critiquing on Scribophile, we may feel that we are wasting one of the author’s coveted “spotlight” critiques.

Having used Scribophile on-and-off since 2009, I’ve seen countless readers qualify their commentary on my own work (“I don’t read your genre,” “I haven’t read your previous chapters,” “I’m not good with grammar,” etc.) and I’ve seen even more cry woe on the forums about how they can’t critique because they’re not experienced enough, not educated enough, or not talented enough. Others decry the very sort of criticism writers’ groups and workshop sites like Scribophile foster, suggesting that the perfunctory nature of such criticism is ultimately more harmful than helpful.

Scribophile as a community thrives on the principle of serious commitment to serious writing, and the foundation of that commitment is reading and responding to others’ work. If you want to explore some elements helpful to improving your critiquing skills, I invite you to get yourself some hot caffeine, strap on your thinking cap, and read on.

How to write a great critique in 3 steps

Listed here are some ideas I’ve found helpful for approaching others’ work; these tips are about your mindset as a critic. These ideas are by no means exhaustive. The best teacher is experience, and I encourage all writers to reflect on the ways in which they approach others’ work as well as how they can best contribute to the growth of others on and off of Scribophile.

1. If you’re genuine, you’ll be constructive

Being constructive means coming to the critique with the ultimate goal of helping the writer improve. It means always criticizing with good intentions for the writer. It does not equate to coddling—being so nice you’ll never say a hard thing—nor does it equate to browbeating—being so hard you’ll never say a nice thing.

Being dishonest or refusing to offer valid criticism where you’re able is a disservice to the writer. Don’t shy away from honesty. Few things are more constructive than hard truths delivered by critics who genuinely want to help and who tailor their criticism with an attitude of genuine interest.

As you interact with works on Scribophile or elsewhere, remember to always approach the task of criticism with a desire to be genuinely helpful. If your criticism is built on this foundation, your commentary will be constructive regardless of your competence and experience.

2. No jerks

As for literary criticism in general: I have long felt that any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel or a play or a poem is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae or a banana split. —Kurt Vonnegut

Few things will more quickly deflate a writer than unnecessarily harsh criticism. Being honest and being brutal are not the same thing. Critics must learn to express hard truths without coddling and without being jerks.

Even rude people can be good writers with valuable insights into the craft. The problem is that if you express valid insights obnoxiously, the author won’t care. In order for people to listen, they must feel that the person criticizing them has their best interest in mind, and being harsh doesn’t communicate your best interest.

In my earliest days writing, I received some negative criticism from a writer who decided to berate me for penning a bad phrase rather than explaining to me why the phrase didn’t work. Because he was rude, I insulated myself to his criticism. Years later, I reviewed the work and realized his criticism was valid. The problem was not the content of his criticism, but its malicious delivery. Had he come to my work with the desire to be genuinely helpful, I would have listened to what he had to say, and I might even have gained some enlightenment during a formative time in my writing career. The critic did me doubly wrong not only by being obnoxious, but by retarding my growth as a writer.

Unnecessarily harsh criticism is a sign of literary and personal immaturity. Don’t be a jerk.

3. Don’t be too timid

Flattering friends corrupt. —St. Augustine

Every writer likes to be praised, especially by those not obligated to praise them due to marital status or having given birth to them. But depthless praise can be just as damaging as heartless criticism. The reason for this is that it offers no real commentary on the work.

Refusing to offer criticism where it’s needed is one of the greatest disservices you as a critic can do for other writers. Some critics may fret that their criticism might be too discouraging if fully disclosed. Critics must contend with the reality that writing is art, people have opinions about art, and those opinions are not always going to be eruptions of praise. There is no safer environment to honestly and succinctly point out problem areas in a piece of writing than a forum designed for that very purpose.

None of this is to say that you shouldn’t commend a piece of work if it truly is fantastic or that you should not highlight the gems within a work. Again: constructive criticism is honest criticism. If a work is so well-crafted in your eyes that nothing worse than grammatical hiccups are present, tell the writer. They deserve to know they’ve done a fine job. Sometimes people genuinely deserve a “well done.” Don’t skimp on encouragement where it can be authentically offered. Even if a piece is messy, do your best to find a few strong points to highlight. It will express your best interest—especially if you had a lot of hard things to say.

The difference between a critique vs. criticism is whether it’s constructive

Be constructive , meaning, have the best intentions for helping the writer. This may mean telling hard truths. If hard truths must be told, do so respectfully. If praise is deserved, offer it. Highlight the strong points of a piece—even if they are far outweighed by the negative points. Be genuine in your motivations, and genuine action will follow.

Considering authorial intent while critique writing

This section concerns authorial intent and has as its purpose the critic’s growth as an interpreter of that intent. This section is not so much about judging an author’s intent as it’s about being aware of that intent and factoring that awareness into your commentary.

1. Context is king

It is important to appreciate the amount of subjectivity and pre-understanding all readers and listeners bring to the process of interpreting acts of human communication. But unless a speaker or author can retain the right to correct someone’s interpretation by saying ‘but that’s not what I meant’ or ‘that’s not even consistent with what I meant,’ all human communication will quickly break down. —Craig L. Blomberg

While interpreters are always within their rights to read whatever they want however they want to, what they are not at liberty to decide is authorial intent —what the author desired the audience to receive from their work.

As a reader and a critic, you must be careful to understand an author’s work on their own terms while also interpreting those words. There is a substantial difference between, “This is how I’m hearing what you’re saying,” and, “This is what I say your words mean.” Don’t presume to tell an author what their work is supposed to mean, but do tell them how you’re interpreting what they’ve written.

A work-in-progress can suffer from a variety of ailments. Contextual questions are not cut-and-dry like questions of syntax, grammar, or, to a degree, plotting. Questions of context have to do with the interaction of author intent and reader interpretation. They’re murky waters to navigate because you as the reader have to exercise a bit of telepathy; you have to try and get inside the author’s head, ultimately “What is the author trying to convey with this sentence, this piece? Who is this piece for, and will it successfully communicate with that target audience? Is it clear that there is a target audience?”

Some authors are great at genre pieces; they know all the chords to strike, they know what the tone of the piece should be, the kinds of characters who should appear. Other authors can completely muck it up. They’ll write a romance piece that reads like a technical manual or a flowery memoir with a tangle of dead-ending tangents. It’s not always easy and natural for new critics to explain why something does or doesn’t work, but innately, we know. When those moments come up, let the author know.

2. The unintended/unspoken

Asking the question, “Is that really what you meant?” isn’t always bad. All of us have been misunderstood. Sometimes the results are humorous, but other times, we’re grateful for the opportunity to correct misunderstandings.

If in your criticism you find yourself questioning the use of a word or phrase, or even of a character, idea, or plot point, it’s advisable to bring such questions to the writer’s attention. It may just be you, but it may not just be you. Unless the writer has a philosophical axe to grind, they probably mean to communicate clearly, and it should at least be made known that they may have botched it up.

Conversely, there are instances where things left unwritten speak volumes. Perhaps a character “falls off the radar” in mid-scene, and it leaves you scratching your head? It may be appropriate to point out confusing instances of the unwritten for the author’s consideration.

Because my own novel employs many neologisms, critics jumping in mid-story often highlight those neologisms to make sure I’m using them as intended. While it can get tedious to say to myself, “Yes, that is what it means,” I am always thankful for keen eyes. This is the kind of sharp, considerate criticism each of us should aim for and be thankful for if we receive it.

3. Accounting for genre and intended audience

A genre is “A category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, marked by a distinctive style, form, or content.” When reading an author’s work, it’s crucial to take into account its genre and intended audience. If you’re even-handed in your critiquing, you’ll at some point be reading a story in a genre you might not otherwise touch, and while you might wish Twilight had been a one-off rather than a worldwide phenomenon, it’s inappropriate to harshly judge an author’s work simply because you don’t like their sort of story.

Consider the question of author intent and how that intent will resonate with an intended (or unintended!) audience. Sometimes, you must ignore whether or not a story resonates with you personally. Instead, ask yourself if it would resonate with your vampire-novel-loving daughter. Are the story, plot devices, characters, and verbiage appropriate for the intended audience? If yes, why or why not? If no, why or why not? Your personal tastes should not dictate the quality of your criticism. Train yourself to offer valuable insight even on writing you’d never pay money to read.

Remember these principles when reading work outside your sphere of interest. Being constructive doesn’t mean you have to love or even like the work. If something is written well, it’s written well—prejudices aside. If you’re truly unable to be objective, you would do the writer a better service by moving on.

4. Don’t pretend to be a non-writer

A film director watches other films differently than a moviegoer. A chef tastes a meal differently than the average person. As a writer, you necessarily see stories differently than non-writers. That’s not a bad thing.

We can be helpful to other writers by sharing our gut reactions no differently than an unversed beta reader. On the other hand, writers should be able to explain with more clarity than the average person why something does or doesn’t work in a story. A writer’s insight is of a different quality than a non-initiate’s insight. Both are needed for success, because if a writer one day moves on to pitch their work to those in the literary establishment, that work will not be judged by average readers until after it has survived the professional gauntlet.

All readers have the ability to share their gut reactions, but not all readers can slip on their “writer glasses” and offer critique on that level. Good critiques provide both types of insight, so as a fellow writer, bring your full experience to bear in helping others embarking on the same journey.

Understanding intent is part of a good critique

As best as you’re able, judge an author’s work on the basis of their intent—this includes noting instances of the unintended! In consideration of genre, judge the work not on the basis of your interest in the genre, but on the author’s skill at writing a piece that strikes the proper chords within the genre they’ve chosen. It’s not possible for you to read as a reader only, so don’t pretend to be something you’re not.

What makes a good critique?

A good writer may come out of any intellectual discipline at all. Every art and science gives the writer its own special ways of seeing, gives him experience with interesting people, and can provide him with means of making a living… It is not necessary—or perhaps even advisable—that the young writer major in literature. —John Gardner

Contrary to the belief of a lot of new writers, learning to write and critique doesn’t require sixty-four credits of college English or an MFA. Plenty of writers and editors don’t hold English or Creative Writing degrees, and while I in no way wish to discourage those who choose to improve their writing and reviewing by taking the high road of formal education, neither do I wish to discourage the 98% of you reading this who haven’t and won’t be able to front the money and time for such an education.

The ability to forge valid criticism is an applied skill learned through a combination of technical knowledge and experience. We’re fortunate to live in an age where vast quantities of technical information are available at our fingertips. Contemporary writers are able to write informed literature like never before. So, too, are critics able to fact-check writers like never before.

Just as you’re willing to fact-check history or science before you include something in your story, it doesn’t hurt to do that for those you critique. Granted, they should do that themselves, but maybe they’re writing a genre you write, or maybe they’re writing about your field of work or interest? Being educated or experienced in any field will enrich not only your writing, but your critiquing. If you’re a fry cook, your ability to write or critique a scene in a modern commercial kitchen is better than that of someone who hasn’t had that experience. Because you know what it’s like to really work in a kitchen, you can speak to the authenticity of any such scene, and you can speak to the authenticity of the kinds of people who work in commercial kitchens. Your grammar may not be the best, but you still have something valuable to contribute.

Great writers are keen observers of life, and their writing both informs and is by informed by life. Bring the authenticity of your life to your writing and your criticism. You have perspectives, knowledge, and experiences others don’t. As you read and respond to authors, employ the skills and knowledge you already possess. Put your formal and informal education and your life experience to work. This is what it means to “write what you know” and, in our case, “critique what you know.”

Immerse yourself in all sorts of stories to get better at critiquing

One of the cardinal “writing for dummies” rules is that if you want to write well, you need to read a lot. I don’t doubt the validity of this statement, but books are only one medium of storytelling among many. My contention is that by immersing yourself in movies, television, and other storytelling mediums, you can learn about dialogue, plot, characterization, and all the other aspects of “storytelling” that appear no matter what medium you choose.

If you want to understand what makes a story great, seek out great stories. Immerse yourself in them. Though you may not be able to verbalize it, your innate understanding of what makes a narrative work will grow. This will improve both your writing and your critiquing.

Steal critiquing techniques from smart people–yourself included

Consider the critiques that have been most helpful to you. Why did they work? Reread them if you must. Then find a way to adapt the good things from those critiques into your own criticism.

Consider the critiques you’ve shared that have been helpful to others. What stood out to the author? You may even consider asking an author for feedback on your critique. Ask how you could have been more helpful.

Critiquing is a skill you can improve over time just like writing itself. But like writing, it takes practice and discipline. Make it easier on yourself by nurturing what works.

A reading list to improving your critique writing skills

There are many solid books on writing that will not only improve your writing, but your critical reading skills. Rather than provide you a hundred sources, here are a few I’ve been able to get my claws on, have dug into, and can personally vouch for:

Good Prose , by Tracy Kidder & Richard Todd. The writer-editor combo of The Atlantic share their wisdom through a tightly-edited, insightful, and entertaining survey of nonfiction writing that has plenty of benefit for writers of all stripes. The book’s section on “proportion and order” in narrative has revolutionized my own thinking about how stories should be structured.

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy , by Orson Scott Card. A good resource if you write these genres, Card provides practical advice on publishing, agents, etc., in addition to familiarizing the reader with dos and don’ts for writing Sci-Fi/Fantasy, including some technical questions. The book’s a bit dated by now—especially the parts about the publishing world—but there are some nuggets of timeless truth within.

On Becoming a Novelist , by John Gardner. Despite the Modernistic tendency of abusing the pronoun “he,” this may be the most formative thing I’ve read about novel writing. It’s slim, readable, practical, and comprehensive.

On Writing , by Stephen King. Something of an autobiography penned by one of the most successful authors of all time, this book is snappy, humorous, entertaining, and more than a little instructive for anyone looking to write and read better. King reminds his fellow writers that “Life isn’t a support system for art; it’s the other way around.”

Story , by Robert McKee. Considered by many to be the “screenwriter’s bible,” Story belongs in the library of every serious writer whether or not they ever aspire to the silver screen. McKee is a master of properly balancing a plot to satisfy an audience, and all writers should glean from his wisdom.

The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop , by Stephen Koch. Koch flexes his student’s muscles by providing copious citations from the masters who have graced the past few centuries of literature. The author fades into the background at points while readers are treated to the musings and experiences of Dostoevsky, Flannery O’Connor, Hemingway, and others.

The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers , by Christopher Vogler. Vogler is one of the most proficient living writers of the entertainment industry. Working primarily from the theses of the late cultural anthropologist, Joseph Campbell, Vogler illustrates the plot devices and character tropes that underlie the world’s oldest stories. Recommended for new writers of the speculative fiction genres and those who wish to write epics.

The value of criticism and critiquing

The arts too can be taught, up to a point; but except for certain matters of technique, one does not learn the arts, one simply catches on. —John Gardner

The value of criticism is twofold: First and most obviously, it helps others. Second, and maybe not as apparent if you’re new to critiquing: It improves your own writing.

As you examine the work of others, you’ll be able to see what works and what doesn’t work. You will begin to notice patterns as you edit your own writing, and you’ll begin to sift out the problem areas. It’s difficult to judge your own work objectively. Doing it for others helps you get a clear head and recognize the ways in which you do the very things you criticize others for doing.

This article hasn’t had as a goal the outlining of a criticism “process.” The reason for this is that I could no more outline a criticism process than I could outline a fiction writing process. There is no single monolithic “right way to do it” that will unequivocally work for everyone. Herein are general guidelines and considerations that I’ve found helpful over the years and that others have appreciated. If you write critiques constructively, taking consideration of what the author is trying to do, and if you do so authentically, drawing on your experiences and knowledge, you’re on the right track for writing great critiques. The details of how exactly you accomplish that will become clearer to you as you engage in criticism. As in any discipline: Seek feedback and keep going.

Appendix I: “Line edits” and “critiques”

“Line edits” and “critiques” are not the same thing. These two types of reader responses address different issues, and in order to ensure that you receive the kind of criticism you’re seeking, you need to know what you’re displaying.

A “line edit” is a thorough, line-by-line examination of a manuscript. A good line edit requires an editor with a keen eye for detail and a working knowledge of contemporary grammar, syntax, and idiomatic English. The purpose of a line edit is to make a manuscript as readable as possible by removing technical errors. Typically, works that receive line edits receive them because they’re in need of them.

A “critique” is an in-depth review, touching on characterization, plot, theme, scene structure, poetry of language, and other related factors. Notice how I didn’t list anything about spelling or proper comma usage? It’s because that’s not critiquing; that’s editing. Typically, works that receive criticism as described here are free or mostly free of errors that distract readers from the story.

No one is perfect, and one of the best tools at our disposal on Scribophile is the inline critique option. Having never read nor submitted a flawless piece of writing for review, I can tell you that no one should be ashamed to receive a line edit. There are many sharp eyes and sharp minds browsing Scribophile, and even the best writer’s eyes glaze over after so many hours of staring at a white screen.

That said, part of what is absolutely necessary to receive genuine criticism as described above is a readable text. An unreadable text has never, in my experience, provided foundation for a fantastic piece of writing. Messy prose screams “messy story.” If you want criticism of story, your text must be as clean as possible.

If you’re willing to admit that your mastery of the technicalities of writing is not the sharpest, by all means, employ the knowledge and expertise of those on this site who do; it’s a wonderful resource. Readers can’t truly resonate with your story until you weave a piece of art that makes them forget they’re experiencing a piece of art. When you’re able to achieve this, you’ve removed the hurdles preventing your reader from authentically engaging with the story you’ve created. It’s at this stage in your writing that you can consistently receive deep criticism.

This is, of course, not to say that imperfect prose can’t be critiqued. Part of writing great critiques is learning to spot the gems in the story and encouraging the writer to press onward in spite of any shortcomings. If you’re honest and genuine, this won’t be a problem.

If all else fails, list at the top of your submitted piece the sort of critique you’re seeking by highlighting specific questions. “I’d love to know how you reacted when X happened,” for example. This will encourage readers to engage with the sorts of questions you’re asking.

Appendix II: The Benefits and Limits of Critique Groups

If you understand how to best leverage critique groups, they will be helpful and formative to your growth. As written above, critiquing others helps you grow; but there is more. The benefits of critique groups are threefold.

First, broad exposure. Want to know what people outside of your social circle will think of your work? A critique group will expose your work to people of different backgrounds. You can learn how a teen writer with big dreams or a Native American ex-botanist writing a memoir in retirement reacts to your story. This is the type of demographic insight you’d pay good money for when it comes time to sell your book. Even in small chunks, it’s valuable to know how different people experience your work.

Second, many eyes forge sharper prose. If three different people all trip over the same thing in your text, the problem is most likely not those three people, but your text. Especially if your text is hot off the press, you can catch errors early, and writers tend to be sharper with these sorts of things than the general population. Go look up the cost of a professional manuscript editor in your area, and you’ll be glad for many eyes combing over your writing.

Third, and most importantly: networking. The goal of sites like Scribophile and in-person critique groups should be to develop a network of people who will read the entirety of your work. Don’t get angry at forks for not being spoons—a reader jumping in mid-story will never give you the same level of commentary as someone who’s been reading since chapter one. If you’re ready for that level of reading, you need others to agree to read the book from start to finish. Use critique groups and sites like Scribophile to build relationships. Be attentive to others and share good critiques with them. As your relationships deepen, you’ll eventually find yourself with a list of contacts to trade with. But this requires you to be the kind of person people want reading their work. Behave professionally, and over time, you’ll find yourself surrounded by likeminded individuals who will give you the kind of meaty, informed commentary you need. The rule of thumb with critique groups and workshop websites is: You get out what you put in to them.

Appendix III: Still confused?

If you have questions I have failed to address in this article, I encourage you to contact me privately here on Scribophile or to reach out on social media. I’m happy to help.

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Writing a Critique

  • About this Guide
  • What Is a Critique?
  • Getting Started
  • Components of a Critique Essay

Types of Critiques

There are many types of critiques. Critiques can be written on:

  • Literary works
  • Published works
  • Drafts of works
  • Policies, of any kind
  • Works of art

Anywhere that criticism can exist, a critique can follow to evaluate arguments, identify gaps, and/or make recommendations. 

Defining Critique

A critique evaluates a resource. It requires both critical reading and analysis in order to present the strengths and weaknesses of a particular resource for readers. The critique includes your opinion of the work. Because of the analytics involved, a critique and a summary are not the same. For quick reference, you can use the following chart in order to determine if your paper is a critique or a summary.

Looking for more information on writing a summary or an abstract? Check out our Writing a Summary guide . 

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What Is a Critique in Composition?

Tips on Writing a Peer Review

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A critique is a formal analysis and evaluation of a text , production, or performance—either one's own (a self-critique ) or someone else's. In composition , a critique is sometimes called a response paper . When written by another expert in the field, a critique can also be called a peer review . Peer reviews are done to decide whether to accept an article for publication in a scholarly journal or, in an education setting, can be done in groups of students who offer feedback to each other on their papers ( peer response ).

Critiques differ from reviews (these are also different from peer reviews) in that critiques offer more depth to their analysis. Think of the difference between a scholarly article examining a work of literature in a journal (critique) and the kinds of topics that would be covered there vs. a few-hundred-word review of a book in a newspaper or magazine for the lay audience, for readers to decide whether they should purchase it. 

Compare the term critique with  critical analysis ,   critical essay ,  and evaluation essay .

Critiquing criteria  are the standards, rules, or tests that serve as the bases for judgments. 

Critiquing a Paper

A critique starts out with a summary of the topic of the paper but differs from a straight summary because it adds the reviewer's analysis.

If a critique is happening to the first draft of a paper, the issues brought by the reviewers need to be large-scale issues with the premise or procedure of obtaining the results—in the case of a scientific paper peer review—and arguments, such as flaws in logic or source material and fallacies, rather than be criticisms on a line level (grammar and the like). Ambiguity and irony presented in the paper could be targets as well.

"The critique is the process of objectively and critically evaluating a research report's content for scientific merit and application to practice, theory, and education, write Geri LoBiondo-Wood and Judith Haber. "It requires some knowledge of the subject matter and knowledge of how to critically read and use critiquing criteria." ("Nursing Research: Methods and Critical Appraisal for Evidence-Based Practice." Elsevier Health Sciences, 2006)

A critique should also point out what works well, not just the flaws in the paper. 

"A critique should emphasize first what the article contributes to the field and then identify the shortcomings or limitations," write authors H. Beall and J. Trimbur. "In other words, a critique is a balanced appraisal, not a hatchet job." ("How to Read a Scientific Article." In "Communicating Science: Professional Contexts," ed. by Eileen Scanlon et al. Taylor & Francis, 1998)

The Purpose of a Critique

Arguments by the reviewer also need to be backed up with evidence. It isn't enough just to say that the paper in question is flawed but also how it's flawed and why—what's the proof that the argument won't hold up?

"It is important to be clear about what a critique is supposed to accomplish," write authors C. Grant Luckhardt and William Bechtel. They continue:

A critique is not the same as a demonstration that the  conclusion  of someone's  argument  is false. Imagine that someone has circulated a memorandum arguing that your company retain your current legal counsel. You, however, are convinced that it is time for a change, and want to demonstrate that....It is important to note here that you can prepare such a demonstration without mentioning any of your colleague's arguments or  rebutting  them. A critique of your colleague's demonstration, in contrast, requires you to examine the arguments in the demonstration and show that they fail to establish the conclusion that the current legal counsel should be retained. "A critique of your colleague's demonstration does not show that its conclusion is wrong. It only shows that the arguments advanced do not establish the conclusion it is claimed they do." ("How to Do Things With Logic." Lawrence Erlbaum, 1994)

Self-Critiques in Creative Writing

A related term to critiquing used frequently in scholarly Bible study is exegesis, though it doesn't apply only to Bible scholarship.

"An exegesis (in a creative writing discourse )...is a scholarly piece of writing with a focus on textual analysis and comparison using literature which relates to your creative writing project. Usually an exegesis is longer than a critique and reads more like a dissertation. There tends to be greater emphasis on your chosen comparative text than on your own creative writing project, with a clear thesis linking the two. "The good news is, once you learn how to write a critique on your creative process, you will find that it actually helps you to better understand your creative writing." (Tara Mokhtari,  The Bloomsbury Introduction to Creative Writing . Bloomsbury, 2015)
  • An Introduction to Academic Writing
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  • Definition and Examples of Analysis in Composition
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  • How Logical Fallacy Invalidates Any Argument
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  • How to write a rhetorical analysis | Key concepts & examples

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis | Key Concepts & Examples

Published on August 28, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

A rhetorical analysis is a type of essay  that looks at a text in terms of rhetoric. This means it is less concerned with what the author is saying than with how they say it: their goals, techniques, and appeals to the audience.

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Table of contents

Key concepts in rhetoric, analyzing the text, introducing your rhetorical analysis, the body: doing the analysis, concluding a rhetorical analysis, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about rhetorical analysis.

Rhetoric, the art of effective speaking and writing, is a subject that trains you to look at texts, arguments and speeches in terms of how they are designed to persuade the audience. This section introduces a few of the key concepts of this field.

Appeals: Logos, ethos, pathos

Appeals are how the author convinces their audience. Three central appeals are discussed in rhetoric, established by the philosopher Aristotle and sometimes called the rhetorical triangle: logos, ethos, and pathos.

Logos , or the logical appeal, refers to the use of reasoned argument to persuade. This is the dominant approach in academic writing , where arguments are built up using reasoning and evidence.

Ethos , or the ethical appeal, involves the author presenting themselves as an authority on their subject. For example, someone making a moral argument might highlight their own morally admirable behavior; someone speaking about a technical subject might present themselves as an expert by mentioning their qualifications.

Pathos , or the pathetic appeal, evokes the audience’s emotions. This might involve speaking in a passionate way, employing vivid imagery, or trying to provoke anger, sympathy, or any other emotional response in the audience.

These three appeals are all treated as integral parts of rhetoric, and a given author may combine all three of them to convince their audience.

Text and context

In rhetoric, a text is not necessarily a piece of writing (though it may be this). A text is whatever piece of communication you are analyzing. This could be, for example, a speech, an advertisement, or a satirical image.

In these cases, your analysis would focus on more than just language—you might look at visual or sonic elements of the text too.

The context is everything surrounding the text: Who is the author (or speaker, designer, etc.)? Who is their (intended or actual) audience? When and where was the text produced, and for what purpose?

Looking at the context can help to inform your rhetorical analysis. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech has universal power, but the context of the civil rights movement is an important part of understanding why.

Claims, supports, and warrants

A piece of rhetoric is always making some sort of argument, whether it’s a very clearly defined and logical one (e.g. in a philosophy essay) or one that the reader has to infer (e.g. in a satirical article). These arguments are built up with claims, supports, and warrants.

A claim is the fact or idea the author wants to convince the reader of. An argument might center on a single claim, or be built up out of many. Claims are usually explicitly stated, but they may also just be implied in some kinds of text.

The author uses supports to back up each claim they make. These might range from hard evidence to emotional appeals—anything that is used to convince the reader to accept a claim.

The warrant is the logic or assumption that connects a support with a claim. Outside of quite formal argumentation, the warrant is often unstated—the author assumes their audience will understand the connection without it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still explore the implicit warrant in these cases.

For example, look at the following statement:

We can see a claim and a support here, but the warrant is implicit. Here, the warrant is the assumption that more likeable candidates would have inspired greater turnout. We might be more or less convinced by the argument depending on whether we think this is a fair assumption.

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Rhetorical analysis isn’t a matter of choosing concepts in advance and applying them to a text. Instead, it starts with looking at the text in detail and asking the appropriate questions about how it works:

  • What is the author’s purpose?
  • Do they focus closely on their key claims, or do they discuss various topics?
  • What tone do they take—angry or sympathetic? Personal or authoritative? Formal or informal?
  • Who seems to be the intended audience? Is this audience likely to be successfully reached and convinced?
  • What kinds of evidence are presented?

By asking these questions, you’ll discover the various rhetorical devices the text uses. Don’t feel that you have to cram in every rhetorical term you know—focus on those that are most important to the text.

The following sections show how to write the different parts of a rhetorical analysis.

Like all essays, a rhetorical analysis begins with an introduction . The introduction tells readers what text you’ll be discussing, provides relevant background information, and presents your thesis statement .

Hover over different parts of the example below to see how an introduction works.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is widely regarded as one of the most important pieces of oratory in American history. Delivered in 1963 to thousands of civil rights activists outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the speech has come to symbolize the spirit of the civil rights movement and even to function as a major part of the American national myth. This rhetorical analysis argues that King’s assumption of the prophetic voice, amplified by the historic size of his audience, creates a powerful sense of ethos that has retained its inspirational power over the years.

The body of your rhetorical analysis is where you’ll tackle the text directly. It’s often divided into three paragraphs, although it may be more in a longer essay.

Each paragraph should focus on a different element of the text, and they should all contribute to your overall argument for your thesis statement.

Hover over the example to explore how a typical body paragraph is constructed.

King’s speech is infused with prophetic language throughout. Even before the famous “dream” part of the speech, King’s language consistently strikes a prophetic tone. He refers to the Lincoln Memorial as a “hallowed spot” and speaks of rising “from the dark and desolate valley of segregation” to “make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” The assumption of this prophetic voice constitutes the text’s strongest ethical appeal; after linking himself with political figures like Lincoln and the Founding Fathers, King’s ethos adopts a distinctly religious tone, recalling Biblical prophets and preachers of change from across history. This adds significant force to his words; standing before an audience of hundreds of thousands, he states not just what the future should be, but what it will be: “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.” This warning is almost apocalyptic in tone, though it concludes with the positive image of the “bright day of justice.” The power of King’s rhetoric thus stems not only from the pathos of his vision of a brighter future, but from the ethos of the prophetic voice he adopts in expressing this vision.

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The conclusion of a rhetorical analysis wraps up the essay by restating the main argument and showing how it has been developed by your analysis. It may also try to link the text, and your analysis of it, with broader concerns.

Explore the example below to get a sense of the conclusion.

It is clear from this analysis that the effectiveness of King’s rhetoric stems less from the pathetic appeal of his utopian “dream” than it does from the ethos he carefully constructs to give force to his statements. By framing contemporary upheavals as part of a prophecy whose fulfillment will result in the better future he imagines, King ensures not only the effectiveness of his words in the moment but their continuing resonance today. Even if we have not yet achieved King’s dream, we cannot deny the role his words played in setting us on the path toward it.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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The goal of a rhetorical analysis is to explain the effect a piece of writing or oratory has on its audience, how successful it is, and the devices and appeals it uses to achieve its goals.

Unlike a standard argumentative essay , it’s less about taking a position on the arguments presented, and more about exploring how they are constructed.

The term “text” in a rhetorical analysis essay refers to whatever object you’re analyzing. It’s frequently a piece of writing or a speech, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, you could also treat an advertisement or political cartoon as a text.

Logos appeals to the audience’s reason, building up logical arguments . Ethos appeals to the speaker’s status or authority, making the audience more likely to trust them. Pathos appeals to the emotions, trying to make the audience feel angry or sympathetic, for example.

Collectively, these three appeals are sometimes called the rhetorical triangle . They are central to rhetorical analysis , though a piece of rhetoric might not necessarily use all of them.

In rhetorical analysis , a claim is something the author wants the audience to believe. A support is the evidence or appeal they use to convince the reader to believe the claim. A warrant is the (often implicit) assumption that links the support with the claim.

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critique vs essay

How to Critique an Article: Mastering the Article Evaluation Process

critique vs essay

Did you know that approximately 4.6 billion pieces of content are produced every day? From news articles and blog posts to scholarly papers and social media updates, the digital landscape is flooded with information at an unprecedented rate. In this age of information overload, honing the skill of articles critique has never been more crucial. Whether you're seeking to bolster your academic prowess, stay well-informed, or improve your writing, mastering the art of article critique is a powerful tool to navigate the vast sea of information and discern the pearls of wisdom.

How to Critique an Article: Short Description

In this article, we will equip you with valuable tips and techniques to become an insightful evaluator of written content. We present a real-life article critique example to guide your learning process and help you develop your unique critique style. Additionally, we explore the key differences between critiquing scientific articles and journals. Whether you're a student, researcher, or avid reader, this guide will empower you to navigate the vast ocean of information with confidence and discernment. Still, have questions? Don't worry! We've got you covered with a helpful FAQ section to address any lingering doubts. Get ready to unleash your analytical prowess and uncover the true potential of every article that comes your way!

What Is an Article Critique: Understanding The Power of Evaluation

An article critique is a valuable skill that involves carefully analyzing and evaluating a written piece, such as a journal article, blog post, or news article. It goes beyond mere summarization and delves into the deeper layers of the content, examining its strengths, weaknesses, and overall effectiveness. Think of it as an engaging conversation with the author, where you provide constructive feedback and insights.

For instance, let's consider a scenario where you're critiquing a research paper on climate change. Instead of simply summarizing the findings, you would scrutinize the methodology, data interpretation, and potential biases, offering thoughtful observations to enrich the discussion. Through the process of writing an article critique, you develop a critical eye, honing your ability to appreciate well-crafted work while also identifying areas for improvement.

In the following sections, our ' write my paper ' experts will uncover valuable tips on and key points on how to write a stellar critique, so let's explore more!

Unveiling the Key Aims of Writing an Article Critique

Writing an article critique serves several essential purposes that go beyond a simple review or summary. When engaging in the art of critique, as when you learn how to write a review article , you embark on a journey of in-depth analysis, sharpening your critical thinking skills and contributing to the academic and intellectual discourse. Primarily, an article critique allows you to:

article critique aims

  • Evaluate the Content : By critiquing an article, you delve into its content, structure, and arguments, assessing its credibility and relevance.
  • Strengthen Your Critical Thinking : This practice hones your ability to identify strengths and weaknesses in written works, fostering a deeper understanding of complex topics and critical evaluation skills.
  • Engage in Scholarly Dialogue : Your critique contributes to the ongoing academic conversation, offering valuable insights and thoughtful observations to the existing body of knowledge.
  • Enhance Writing Skills : By analyzing and providing feedback, you develop a keen eye for effective writing techniques, benefiting your own writing endeavors.
  • Promote Continuous Learning : Through the writing process, you continually refine your analytical abilities, becoming an avid and astute learner in the pursuit of knowledge.

How to Critique an Article: Steps to Follow

The process of crafting an article critique may seem overwhelming, especially when dealing with intricate academic writing. However, fear not, for it is more straightforward than it appears! To excel in this art, all you require is a clear starting point and the skill to align your critique with the complexities of the content. To help you on your journey, follow these 3 simple steps and unlock the potential to provide insightful evaluations:

how to critique an article

Step 1: Read the Article

The first and most crucial step when wondering how to do an article critique is to thoroughly read and absorb its content. As you delve into the written piece, consider these valuable tips from our custom essay writer to make your reading process more effective:

  • Take Notes : Keep a notebook or digital document handy while reading. Jot down key points, noteworthy arguments, and any questions or observations that arise.
  • Annotate the Text : Underline or highlight significant passages, quotes, or sections that stand out to you. Use different colors to differentiate between positive aspects and areas that may need improvement.
  • Consider the Author's Purpose : Reflect on the author's main critical point and the intended audience. Much like an explanatory essay , evaluate how effectively the article conveys its message to the target readership.

Now, let's say you are writing an article critique on climate change. While reading, you come across a compelling quote from a renowned environmental scientist highlighting the urgency of addressing global warming. By taking notes and underlining this impactful quote, you can later incorporate it into your critique as evidence of the article's effectiveness in conveying the severity of the issue.

Step 2: Take Notes/ Make sketches

Once you've thoroughly read the article, it's time to capture your thoughts and observations by taking comprehensive notes or creating sketches. This step plays a crucial role in organizing your critique and ensuring you don't miss any critical points. Here's how to make the most out of this process:

  • Highlight Key Arguments : Identify the main arguments presented by the author and highlight them in your notes. This will help you focus on the core ideas that shape the article.
  • Record Supporting Evidence : Take note of any evidence, examples, or data the author uses to support their arguments. Assess the credibility and effectiveness of this evidence in bolstering their claims.
  • Examine Structure and Flow : Pay attention to the article's structure and how each section flows into the next. Analyze how well the author transitions between ideas and whether the organization enhances or hinders the reader's understanding.
  • Create Visual Aids : If you're a visual learner, consider using sketches or diagrams to map out the article's key points and their relationships. Visual representations can aid in better grasping the content's structure and complexities.

Step 3: Format Your Paper

Once you've gathered your notes and insights, it's time to give structure to your article critique. Proper formatting ensures your critique is organized, coherent, and easy to follow. Here are essential tips for formatting an article critique effectively:

  • Introduction : Begin with a clear and engaging introduction that provides context for the article you are critiquing. Include the article's title, author's name, publication details, and a brief overview of the main theme or thesis.
  • Thesis Statement : Present a strong and concise thesis statement that conveys your overall assessment of the article. Your thesis should reflect whether you found the article compelling, convincing, or in need of improvement.
  • Body Paragraphs : Organize your critique into well-structured body paragraphs. Each paragraph should address a specific point or aspect of the article, supported by evidence and examples from your notes.
  • Use Evidence : Back up your critique with evidence from the article itself. Quote relevant passages, cite examples, and reference data to strengthen your analysis and demonstrate your understanding of the article's content.
  • Conclusion : Conclude your critique by summarizing your main points and reiterating your overall evaluation. Avoid introducing new arguments in the conclusion and instead provide a concise and compelling closing statement.
  • Citation Style : If required, adhere to the specific citation style guidelines (e.g., APA, MLA) for in-text citations and the reference list. Properly crediting the original article and any additional sources you use in your critique is essential.

How to Critique a Journal Article: Mastering the Steps

So, you've been assigned the task of critiquing a journal article, and not sure where to start? Worry not, as we've prepared a comprehensive guide with different steps to help you navigate this process with confidence. Journal articles are esteemed sources of scholarly knowledge, and effectively critiquing them requires a systematic approach. Let's dive into the steps to expertly evaluate and analyze a journal article:

Step 1: Understanding the Research Context

Begin by familiarizing yourself with the broader research context in which the journal article is situated. Learn about the field, the topic's significance, and any previous relevant research. This foundational knowledge will provide a valuable backdrop for your journal article critique example.

Step 2: Evaluating the Article's Structure

Assess the article's overall structure and organization. Examine how the introduction sets the stage for the research and how the discussion flows logically from the methodology and results. A well-structured article enhances readability and comprehension.

Step 3: Analyzing the Research Methodology

Dive into the research methodology section, which outlines the approach used to gather and analyze data. Scrutinize the study's design, data collection methods, sample size, and any potential biases or limitations. Understanding the research process will enable you to gauge the article's reliability.

Step 4: Assessing the Data and Results

Examine the presentation of data and results in the article. Are the findings clear and effectively communicated? Look for any discrepancies between the data presented and the interpretations made by the authors.

Step 5: Analyzing the Discussion and Conclusions

Evaluate the discussion section, where the authors interpret their findings and place them in the broader context. Assess the soundness of their conclusions, considering whether they are adequately supported by the data.

Step 6: Considering Ethical Considerations

Reflect on any ethical considerations raised by the research. Assess whether the study respects the rights and privacy of participants and adheres to ethical guidelines.

Step 7: Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses

Identify the article's strengths, such as well-designed experiments, comprehensive, relevant literature reviews, or innovative approaches. Also, pinpoint any weaknesses, like gaps in the research, unclear explanations, or insufficient evidence.

Step 8: Offering Constructive Feedback

Provide constructive feedback to the authors, highlighting both positive aspects and areas for improvement for future research. Suggest ways to enhance the research methods, data analysis, or discussion to bolster its overall quality.

Step 9: Presenting Your Critique

Organize your critique into a well-structured paper, starting with an introduction that outlines the article's context and purpose. Develop a clear and focused thesis statement that conveys your assessment. Support your points with evidence from the article and other credible sources.

By following these steps on how to critique a journal article, you'll be well-equipped to craft a thoughtful and insightful piece, contributing to the scholarly discourse in your field of study!

Got an Article that Needs Some Serious Critiquing?

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An Article Critique: Journal Vs. Research

In the realm of academic writing, the terms 'journal article' and 'research paper' are often used interchangeably, which can lead to confusion about their differences. Understanding the distinctions between critiquing a research article and a journal piece is essential. Let's delve into the key characteristics that set apart a journal article from a research paper and explore how the critique process may differ for each:

Publication Scope:

  • Journal Article: Presents focused and concise research findings or new insights within a specific subject area.
  • Research Paper: Explores a broader range of topics and can cover extensive research on a particular subject.

Format and Structure:

  • Journal Article: Follows a standardized format with sections such as abstract, introduction, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion.
  • Research Paper: May not adhere to a specific format and allows flexibility in organizing content based on the research scope.

Depth of Analysis:

  • Journal Article: Provides a more concise and targeted analysis of the research topic or findings.
  • Research Paper: Offers a more comprehensive and in-depth analysis, often including extensive literature reviews and data analyses.
  • Journal Article: Typically shorter in length, ranging from a few pages to around 10-15 pages.
  • Research Paper: Tends to be longer, spanning from 20 to several hundred pages, depending on the research complexity.

Publication Type:

  • Journal Article: Published in academic journals after undergoing rigorous peer review.
  • Research Paper: May be published as a standalone work or as part of a thesis, dissertation, or academic report.
  • Journal Article: Targeted at academics, researchers, and professionals within the specific field of study.
  • Research Paper: Can cater to a broader audience, including students, researchers, policymakers, and the general public.
  • Journal Article: Primarily aimed at sharing new research findings, contributing to academic discourse, and advancing knowledge in the field.
  • Research Paper: Focuses on comprehensive exploration and analysis of a research topic, aiming to make a substantial contribution to the body of knowledge.

Appreciating these differences becomes paramount when engaging in the critique of these two forms of scholarly publications, as they each demand a unique approach and thoughtful consideration of their distinctive attributes. And if you find yourself desiring a flawlessly crafted research article critique example, entrusting the task to professional writers is always an excellent option – you can easily order essay that meets your needs.

Article Critique Example

Our collection of essay samples offers a comprehensive and practical illustration of the critique process, granting you access to valuable insights.

Tips on How to Critique an Article

Critiquing an article requires a keen eye, critical thinking, and a thoughtful approach to evaluating its content. To enhance your article critique skills and provide insightful analyses, consider incorporating these five original and practical tips into your process:

1. Analyze the Author's Bias : Be mindful of potential biases in the article, whether they are political, cultural, or personal. Consider how these biases may influence the author's perspective and the presentation of information. Evaluating the presence of bias enables you to discern the objectivity and credibility of the article's arguments.

2. Examine the Supporting Evidence : Scrutinize the quality and relevance of the evidence used to support the article's claims. Look for well-researched data, credible sources, and up-to-date statistics. Assess how effectively the author integrates evidence to build a compelling case for their arguments.

3. Consider the Audience's Perspective : Put yourself in the shoes of the intended audience and assess how well the article communicates its ideas. Consider whether the language, tone, and level of complexity are appropriate for the target readership. A well-tailored article is more likely to engage and resonate with its audience.

4. Investigate the Research Methodology : If the article involves research or empirical data, delve into the methodology used to gather and analyze the information. Evaluate the soundness of the study design, sample size, and data collection methods. Understanding the research process adds depth to your critique.

5. Discuss the Implications and Application : Consider the broader implications of the article's findings or arguments. Discuss how the insights presented in the article could impact the field of study or have practical applications in real-world scenarios. Identifying the potential consequences of the article's content strengthens your critique's depth and relevance.

Wrapping Up

In a nutshell, article critique is an essential skill that helps us grow as critical thinkers and active participants in academia. Embrace the opportunity to analyze and offer constructive feedback, contributing to a brighter future of knowledge and understanding. Remember, each critique is a chance to engage with new ideas and expand our horizons. So, keep honing your critique skills and enjoy the journey of discovery in the world of academic exploration!

Tired of Ordinary Critiques?

Brace yourself for an extraordinary experience! Our critique geniuses are on standby, ready to unleash their extraordinary skills on your article!

What Steps Need to Be Taken in Writing an Article Critique?

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Satire Essay

Critique versus Criticize

Claire Kehrwald Cook, in her Line by Line , noted that critique as a verb “has not yet won full acceptance.” That was more than thirty years ago, and nowadays a great many scholarly writers use critique as a verb routinely and without blinking. But Cook also observed, though in passing, that the meaning of critique , “to give a critical examination of,” differs from that of criticize or review (174).

The difference is important. Merriam-Webster defines the noun critique as “a careful judgment in which you give your opinion about the good and bad parts of something (such as a piece of writing or a work of art)” but points out its overlap with criticism :

Criticism usually means “the act of criticizing” or a “remark or comment that expresses disapproval,” but it can also refer to the activity of making judgments about the qualities of books, movies, etc. (as in “literary criticism”). Critique is a somewhat formal word that typically refers to a careful judgment in which someone gives an opinion about something.

The overlap notwithstanding, here is a reasonable example of why maintaining a distinction matters: On the one hand, “The ballet instructor critiqued the dancer’s pirouette” could mean that the ballet dancer performed an excellent pirouette but that the teacher gave the dancer pointers to make it dazzling. On the other hand, “The reviewer criticized the dancer’s pirouette” means that the reviewer regarded the dancer’s performance unfavorably.

The formal prose required in scholarly writing can make writers hesitant to use simple, down-to-earth words, lest their authority appear questionable. But the preference for critique in academic writing often erases the valuable difference between the two words.

Works Cited

Cook, Claire Kehrwald. Line by Line: How to Improve Your Own Writing . Houghton Mifflin, 1985.

“Critique, N .” Merriam-Webster.com , 2016, www.merriam-Webster.com/dictionary/critique.

Julie Branin 17 October 2017 AT 01:10 PM

I was looking for a comparison of critique and exposee.

Your e-mail address will not be published

Mohamed Jiwa 22 April 2018 AT 04:04 PM

Critique is an adaptation from French, used in English, to help improve quality of work offered by a constituent or stakeholder. It is gentler than Criticism which is nearly the same - a critical response - except it is not always invited and can be an ego buster.

LWE 25 January 2020 AT 12:01 AM

In general, it seems to me that people use “criticism” or “criticize” where a harsher word like condemn/ation or denounce would be more appropriate.

Lisa 26 May 2021 AT 08:05 PM

I noticed that this passage talks about critism and Critique.

Joaquín 02 August 2023 AT 05:08 PM

In philosophy and critical theory it is common. It is true that beyond those areas its much rarer. To me, to critique means to criticize something seriously, argumentatively, and logically.

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  1. How To Write a Critique (With Types and an Example)

    Jennifer Herrity Updated February 3, 2023 A critique is a formal analysis that people write in response to a body of work. Critiques analyze and interpret a work or concept and draw conclusions based on those findings.

  2. Essay vs Critique: When To Use Each One In Writing?

    A critique is a detailed analysis and evaluation of a piece of writing or other creative work. It involves examining the work's strengths and weaknesses, and providing feedback to the author on how to improve their writing or creative output.

  3. How to Write a Critique Paper: Tips + Critique Essay Examples

    6 min Updated: April 14th, 2023 Print How to Write a Critique Paper: Tips + Critique Essay Examples (149 votes) A critique paper is an academic writing genre that summarizes and gives a critical evaluation of a concept or work. Or, to put it simply, it is no more than a summary and a critical analysis of a specific issue.

  4. Writing a Critique

    Writing a Critique. A critique (or critical review) is not to be mistaken for a literature review. A 'critical review', or 'critique', is a complete type of text (or genre), discussing one particular article or book in detail. In some instances, you may be asked to write a critique of two or three articles (e.g. a comparative critical review).

  5. Writing an Article Critique

    Before you start writing, you will need to take some steps to get ready for your critique: Choose an article that meets the criteria outlined by your instructor. Read the article to get an understanding of the main idea. Read the article again with a critical eye. As you read, take note of the following: What are the credentials of the author/s?

  6. Writing Critiques

    Writing Critiques. Writing a critique involves more than pointing out mistakes. It involves conducting a systematic analysis of a scholarly article or book and then writing a fair and reasonable description of its strengths and weaknesses. Several scholarly journals have published guides for critiquing other people's work in their academic area.

  7. Components of a Critique Essay

    The critique is your evaluation of the resource. A strong critique: Discusses the strengths of the resource. Discusses the weaknesses of the resource. Provides specific examples (direct quotes, with proper citation) as needed to support your evaluation. Discusses anything else pertinent to your evaluation, including.

  8. How to Write Critical Reviews

    To write a good critical review, you will have to engage in the mental processes of analyzing (taking apart) the work-deciding what its major components are and determining how these parts (i.e., paragraphs, sections, or chapters) contribute to the work as a whole. Analyzing the work will help you focus on how and why the author makes certain ...

  9. 8.1 What Makes a Critique a Critique?

    A critique is different from an expository essay which is, as you have learned, a discussion revolving around a topic with multiple sources to support the discussion points. As you can see in Self-Practice Exercise 8.1, depending on the type of critique you are writing, your reference page could include one source only.

  10. Essay Critique

    Criticism is generally a review, a set of likes and dislikes. A critique is more formal and includes detailed explanations and possible solutions. What is Essay Critique? An essay...

  11. Critique vs. Criticism: How to Write a Critique Correctly

    1. If you're genuine, you'll be constructive Being constructive means coming to the critique with the ultimate goal of helping the writer improve. It means always criticizing with good intentions for the writer.

  12. PDF The Critique Essay

    The critique essay is not about concerned with the content of the article - but whether or not the AUTHOR of the article presented an effective (or ineffective) argument. EXAMPLE - Dr. John Stamos writes an article about polka music (he's in favor of more polka music on the radio).

  13. The Four Main Types of Essay

    An essay is a focused piece of writing designed to inform or persuade. There are many different types of essay, but they are often defined in four categories: argumentative, expository, narrative, and descriptive essays. Argumentative and expository essays are focused on conveying information and making clear points, while narrative and ...

  14. Pfeiffer Library: Writing a Critique: What Is a Critique?

    Pfeiffer Library Research Guides Writing a Critique What Is a Critique? Writing a Critique Tutorial for writing a critique in an academic setting. What Is a Critique? Types of Critiques There are many types of critiques. Critiques can be written on: Literary works Published works Drafts of works Policies, of any kind Works of art Events

  15. How to Write a Critical Essay

    Updated on August 25, 2019 A critical essay is a form of academic writing that analyzes, interprets, and/or evaluates a text. In a critical essay, an author makes a claim about how particular ideas or themes are conveyed in a text, then supports that claim with evidence from primary and/or secondary sources.

  16. Critiques Definition and Examples

    A critique is a formal analysis and evaluation of a text, production, or performance—either one's own (a self-critique) or someone else's. In composition, a critique is sometimes called a response paper. When written by another expert in the field, a critique can also be called a peer review.

  17. Critical Analysis and Critique

    Critical Analysis and Critique. Critical analysis involves the ability to evaluate an author's work, whether it is an article, a book, a movie,or some other product. Ultimately, the purpose of critical analysis is to engage with a text instead of simply reading it over and accepting everything it says without questioning.

  18. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

    A rhetorical analysis is a type of essay that looks at a text in terms of rhetoric. This means it is less concerned with what the author is saying than with how they say it: their goals, techniques, and appeals to the audience. A rhetorical analysis is structured similarly to other essays: an introduction presenting the thesis, a body analyzing ...

  19. How to Critique an Article: Unleashing Your Inner Critic

    Step 9: Presenting Your Critique. Organize your critique into a well-structured paper, starting with an introduction that outlines the article's context and purpose. Develop a clear and focused thesis statement that conveys your assessment. Support your points with evidence from the article and other credible sources.

  20. Summary vs. Critique

    Summary vs. Critique. In the following introduction paragraph, the student author uses summary at the beginning as she engages the reader with the topic of the essay she is about to critique. (See underlined section.) Later, she moves from summary to critique; that is, she makes a judgment about how the Brandt essay works (and doesn't work).

  21. Essay vs Critique

    As nouns the difference between essay and critique is that essay is a written composition of moderate length exploring a particular issue or subject while critique is the art of criticism. As verbs the difference between essay and critique is that essay is to try while critique is to review something. Other Comparisons: What's the difference?

  22. Critic vs Critique: Deciding Between Similar Terms

    "Critic" can refer to a person who evaluates and judges creative works, often with a negative connotation. On the other hand, "critique" is a more neutral term that refers to a detailed analysis and evaluation of a work, often with the intention of providing constructive feedback.

  23. Critique versus Criticize

    Merriam-Webster defines the noun critique as "a careful judgment in which you give your opinion about the good and bad parts of something (such as a piece of writing or a work of art)" but points out its overlap with criticism: