Research article critique – what is it?

Criticism is one of the elements of human life that never goes away. Whether you are a movie critic, a critic of life in general or someone who simply criticises others all day long, we cannot get away from it. That is never truer than in academia where essays, books, monographs, lecturers and almost all elements of university or student life are constantly criticised by all those involved. This is particularly the case for research article. Research articles are typically pieces of work which research a particular field of study – for example, Medieval frescos and whether they accurately depict scenes from the Bible- which are then written about in an analytical way. Criticism of research articles is often a means of debating a particular point in an article or attempting to present an alternative interpretation of the conclusions come to by the original author. When done well, a critique of a research article can be not only entertaining but also useful in furthering scholarly debate and allowing an advance of the field of research in question. If it is not done as well then, the piece can simply create more confusion around the topic and not help with the development of debate surrounding it.

Therefore, it is vital to understand the best way to write a research article critique. This article will break down the key elements of a critique and allow you to fully understand how to write one that will not only be engaging and interesting but also allow you to fully express yourself in an academically appropriate way that will convince the reader that your criticisms of the research article you are responding to are sound academically.

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It is vitally important when writing your critique to think carefully about how to introduce it. The introduction will allow you to express your main argument in relation to the piece you are criticising as well as demonstrate that your response is based on sound criticism rather than a dislike of the author or of the piece in general. It is also important to remember when writing your introduction to ensure that you include clear and unequivocal references to the article that you are criticising. This does not mean that you need to copy and paste large chunks of the text of the article you are critiquing into your own piece, it simply means that you need to include references as quotations to the piece you are critiquing from the very beginning. Remember, it could be the case that some people who are reading your critique have not read the original work and as such could be confused if you assume that they have and make no direct reference to it or use any quotations from it. For example, you could write an introduction like this;

“This article is in response to Joe Blogg’s essay on the Italian Renaissance. Mr Blogg’s piece asserts that, rather than being a revival of classical artwork, the Italian Renaissance was an attempt to move away from traditional Christian inspired artwork and to move it onto “more radically defined art, that whilst being inspired by Christianity, to a large extent rejected it in favour of utilising the human imagination.” Whilst Mr Blogg makes a fine point in his piece, it is easy to dispute as we can simply look at the work of Michelangelo and his representations of events from the Bible.”

The extract that is demonstrated above is, of course, only one method of introducing the subject in hand and explaining your argument in relation to that of the person you are critiquing. What should be clear from the sample above and from this article is that the introduction has to be professional – if the author is a doctor, for instance, then it would be appropriate to refer to them as “Doctor Bloggs” or such like. This demonstrates that you are taking the subject seriously. It is also important to note that you must, from the introduction to the conclusion, use quotations from the other person’s text. The quotations should not be shoved in clumsily however but embroidered and imbedded into the text in such a way as that they are not too noticeable.

The next important thing that you must think about when writing a critique is to focus on how to structure it. Structure is important because if your structure is in someway flawed then it could badly affect the rest of your piece and make it look worse as a result. This is something that should be avoided to ensure that your piece doesn’t at any point look bad or unprofessional.

  • Introduction. We have already briefly discussed the introduction, but we will quickly go over it again. The introduction is vital for setting out the main argument and comparing and contrasting your piece with the other person’s article. You must make sure that you are beginning the comparison process from the very start of the piece throughout, right to the very end. This will allow the reader to easily understand the linking process throughout your article and to not be confused at any point by the argument that you are putting forward. The introduction will also allow you to be able to debate certain parts of the article briefly before moving onto them later in the piece.
  • Main Argument. Your main argument will take up most of your piece and will be the part that you will have to spend the most amount of time researching, planning and familiarising yourself with before you write it. Your main argument will be the crux of which you and the author you are responding to will disagree upon. Going back to the example that we used before, it could be a disagreement between you and Joe Blogg’s about the impact of Christianity on motivating Renaissance artists to paint or how much it influenced their art. Alternatively, it could be something regarding whether the influence of the Wright Brothers on aeroplanes has been overestimated or whether their contribution is perhaps undervalued. Whatever it is, it is important in your main argument not only to be sure as to what you disagree on with Joe Blogg’s but what you might agree somewhat on. It is worth taking time to fully examine Joe Blogg’s entire article in detail as to whether you disagree with something they said on another matter which leads them to the conclusion that you mainly disagree with and compare that to something which you partly agree with them on. When planning your main argument, it is also important to research the subject you are writing on fully and examining the author’s references to see which books or papers they have read that have brought them to the conclusion that you debate in your piece. This will allow you to have a stronger and more thorough argument, but this will mean you are not only debating the other person’s interpretation but also perhaps the interpretation of the sources they used and comparing it to your own sources. This will demonstrate not only the competence of your piece in being able to criticise the work of others but also that you have put time and effort into researching their field properly and to being able to asses what issues you have with the other person’s piece and see what what issues you have with the field in general and demonstrate that you can provide evidence to support your argument and help prove that your interpretation is correct.
  • Subsidiary Arguments. Subsidiary Arguments are arguments that aren’t as important as your main argument but are still worth mentioning in the context of the piece. They will essentially be minor disagreements that you have with the other writer’s conclusions but not points that are detailed enough or have enough interesting detail in them to be worth being part of the main argument. Your Subsidiary Arguments should also try to be as condense as possible as you do not want to go off into a tangent and neglect the parts of your piece that are the most important – the parts that support the main argument.
  • Conclusion. The conclusion of your piece is particularly important because the conclusion will cement whether your argument has enough strength behind it to be judged to have produced something that will help understanding of the field. It will also allow you to draw in all the elements from your previous points and conclude on a note which will demonstrate that your argument is correct, and your criticisms of the other person’s piece are legitimate and justified. Your conclusion will also allow you to demonstrate your strongest arguments and make clear reference to them in comparison to the argument put forward by the person you are responding to.

It is important to note when planning your piece that you may want to change elements of the structure set out in this article. You shouldn’t worry about this as some articles may require a different approach to others and you may want to put more emphasise on a particular point or section. For example, some critiques may want to use a series of shorter arguments to criticise the other person’s work rather than having a main disagreement with the other person’s article. It must be mentioned, however, that this technique is seen as not as academic and if you want to make your article seem as academic as possible then this may not be the best technique to use.

It is important now to discuss the style that you should write your critique in. Most critiques will be for academic papers, so it is important that you stick to a particular style of writing when composing your piece. You should try to avoid a more colloquial style of writing and try to make your piece as professional and academic as possible. It is also important to remember that you must try and ensure that your writing does not try to decry the piece of the other person in a way that may be deemed insulting by them. Your criticism should be constructive, and you should aim to try to make it as balanced and lacking in any malice as possible. The whole point of a critique is to criticise, so this shouldn’t mean you should be afraid of pointing out flaws in the other person’s writing or mentioning any potential failings that they have in their piece, but you should do it in a way that cannot be seen as insulting.

Once you have finished your critique it is time to review it and make certain that you have included everything you want to in regard to criticising the other person’s piece and that you haven’t left anything out. It should also allow you to make sure you haven’t included any mistakes regarding the source material, that all your references are correctly in place and that you haven’t made any grammatical or spelling mistakes. Reviewing your piece will also allow you to be certain that it is a proper critique and follows all the set academic standards.

Hopefully this piece will have enlightened you on how to write a research article critique and you will have no problems writing you own. However, if there is some element of the piece you find confusing or don’t fully understand then why not contact us?

We provide a plethora of writing services from critiques to essays to CVs and cover letters. Our writing services allow you to be safe in the knowledge that your work is in professional hands. So why not contact us and see how we can help you?

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