Guidelines for Writing the Critique 1. Before beginning your critique, read the entire paper / article to gain an overall understanding of the argument. 2. Keep an open, uncensoring mind. Then start criticizing. 3. Try to be positive as well as negative. We learn as much from recognizing our strengths as our weaknesses. 4. If you think that an idea is underdeveloped or doesn't fit the paper's intentions, suggest (if you can) a way it can be improved upon or incorporated more smoothly into the paper. 5. Always criticize in terms of what the writer is trying to do with the topic, not what you would do if the topic were yours. Use the following questions as guidelines only. 1. Introduction Does the introduction tell you something about where the writer intends to go in the body of the paper? Is it interesting? Does the paper deliver what the introduction promises? 2. The argument What did you learn from reading the paper? Was it worth learning? What questions were you left with? Does writer link the topic to larger historical issues convincingly? If not, can you suggest a way that she or he might tie the research and "the big picture" together more satisfactorily? Is the argument clear? If the paper is centered on an event, has the writer made the meaning of the event clear? Has the author argued the thesis convincingly and logically? Can you think of counter- arguments? How might the writer incorporate them? How well has he or she analyzed the historical problem that the paper is based on? Do other analyses suggest themselves to you? If the paper lacks a consistent and persuasive argument, what might the writer do to improve it? What points should she or he shore up? How can weaknesses in logic be addressed? 3. Use of evidence Is/are the argument/s sound? Does the evidence support the entire article? Is the evidence appropriately documented? 4. Organization Do the ideas in the paper lead naturally from one to the next? That is, are the linkages logical? Where are the disjunctions, if any? What causes them? What might be done to make the paper flow more logically and gracefully? Does the structure of the paper conform to the intent of the writer? What parts of the paper can be deleted, if any? 5. Conclusion Does the conclusion sum up the writer's findings, suggest further research, tie the argument together? Does it give you a sense of closure, or does it leave you with questions? 6. Writing Is the writing clear? Succinct? Precise? Graceful?
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