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Article critique writing style

Article critique - what should be the writing style and why

Apr 26, 2013 - Posted to  Writing in General
The article critique has a well-respected place in academia; along with helping students to develop and strengthen crucial critical thinking skills it also allows them to participate in an ongoing conversation or debate with an author or topic in their field. In addition, it also pushes the student to actively engage with a text, observe it with a critical eye, and carefully evaluate what has been presented to them.
And as with any paper or essay, many questions may come to mind when preparing a critique. Aside from the specific areas that need to be covered in the review, other questions may also arise such as; How should I format my paper? And is there a particular style that I need to adhere to?

Formatting the critique

In terms of format the critique follows a similar pattern to that of other essays whose body is organized based on the points to be discussed or the unique progression of the argument. And the points pertaining to the critique will likely be the different aspects of the author's argument that the writer has chosen to analyze (which they may agree or disagree with).
So in all, a completed article critique would entail an introduction that provides; basic background information on the title to be evaluated, the writer's thesis statement, and a few sentences outlining the organization of the essay or paper. A body that is structured as mentioned above, and a conclusion that restates the writer's opinion of the title, any significant points as well as a possible connection to broader issues in the field or discipline.

A word about writing style

Along with the discussion on format, issues of style may also be raised when working to compose a critique. The term writing style itself may carry slightly different meanings based on who you ask, but essentially its the way a writer chooses to write (including how they approach the subject, their selection of words, and overall means of expression). Likewise, its what sets the writer apart from other writers. So based on this definition it becomes clear that it would be very difficult to outline an exact writing style for an article critique; as each writer has their own. But what can be mentioned is how you can make your style known in your writing.

Establishing your writing style

You can distinguish yourself from others in the manner in which you present yourself on paper. This may include;
  • word choice
  • sentence structure
  • references made; examples provided
  • or the use/absence of literary or poetic devices
These items among other things will distinguish a relaxed tone from a formal one, or a colloquial word choice from a scientific or technical word choice; a combination of many elements that all point towards the specific style or personality of the writer.
Your style reveals much about you, and even though there is a lot of freedom involved in writing, a balance should be made considering the type of work you are constructing and who you are writing for. Article critiques for example are usually written for an academic audience, with a formal and/or scholarly tone.

Maintaining style expectations

Though creativity is definitely welcomed in almost all forms of writing, it may be wise to exercise a bit caution if you decide to throw some of your 'wittiness' into your article critique. Simply because the article critique is not exactly known for its diversity and excitement when it comes to style. Unlike a personal essay or narrative, that may be executed in a variety of ways, an article critique is generally a more restricted document with a long relationship with structure and precision (basic attributes of academic writing).
Often times the articles that are critiqued are scholarly ones that usually connect in some way to a student's coursework in terms of theory or relevant topics and discussions. Considering this it would be a little risky to try anything too experimental in terms of composition.
Baring this in mind, its also worth it to mention the characteristics of an article critique. Really knowing these characteristics will hopefully help you to better understand how a critique should be composed in light of the points just mentioned.

Characteristics of the article critique

  • provides an analysis and evaluation of one article
  • is written objectively
  • may combine both positive and negative reviews
  • puts the article in the context of other similar works
  • explicitly states the author's ideas and views
  • provides sufficient supportive evidence
  • asks critical questions in order to properly examine the author's argument

Safe ways to deviate

If you are still considering presenting your article critique a little different then what's expected, you may want to either force yourself to conform (especially if you have a grade riding on it) or consider some safe ways to deviate. Even though all professors may not encourage this, people often do enjoy a nice change from the norm from time to time; which also includes writing styles.

So how can you safely add some spice to your critique?

Well there really aren't too many options available but you may want to consider the following;
  • delay your thesis - Sometimes saving 'the best part for last' is a nice way to add flavor to your essay. In this case 'the best part' would be your final opinion or verdict on the article; delaying it may add some suspense to the critique (i.e.instead of telling it outright you can gradually lead the audience to it)
  • choose an alternative perspective - Instead of going with the first few things that come to mind after putting down the article, or examining the obvious points, try to think a little deeper about the text and extract alternative or rare concepts that most people would not think to consider.
A note concerning both of these is that usually when you 'go off the beaten path', this means more work for you. Even though the results are usually worth it, if you're concerned about conserving time or just want to 'get through' the critique you may want to save your adventurous ambitions for another round of papers.
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