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Top Tips for Writing Article Reviews

When students are given an article review to write, it is not always clear to them what this assignment is. Occasionally, journalists even have to seek clarification when they are required to review an article. Terms such as “article critiques” and “article summaries” are often used interchangeably by those trying to find out how to write article reviews. When they ask students to write an article review, a tutor, course supervisor, or instructor should make clear precisely what they want to see in the completed document.

In broad terms, the student or writer is given an article to review, critique, or summarize. These articles are often difficult enough to read and may require several readings as well as a lot of note taking. It is likely the reviewer will have to look up various words and phrases they are not familiar with. They can then write proper notes once they fully understand the task.

To begin with, it will be necessary to draw up a writing plan, and the writer will have to decide what parts of the article they should focus on. Usually, an article review is a formal written piece created in accordance with current conventions at the time of writing. It is not a good idea to stray from the standard format unless the person who assigned the task specifically requests that you do so.

Primary Steps Involved in Writing Article Reviews

  1. First, the article should be read carefully while making notes of various words, concepts, and phrases that need to be defined, their meaning clarified, or researched.
  2. In most cases, terms can be researched in a library or online. Make explicit notes that you can later develop into paragraphs.
  3. Consult another person or someone who is expert in the field in question. If, for instance, the article concerns a show or play at a theatre, go to the theatre and speak to a director or actor. Where an article concerns some type of construction work, speak to a project engineer.
  4. It is a good idea to gather around double the materials you believe you will actually need in note form before writing your article review.
  5. Leave aside a sufficient amount of time for all the required tasks including researching the topic and interviewing experts.
  6. Start drafting your review using a style that critiques, reviews, or summarizes your collected materials. Reviews involve a great deal more than descriptions. They require the writer to understand the subject, interpret it, and analyze it and, if required, to provide their personal view or opinion.
  7. It makes sense to leave the first paragraph until the end. This will help you present your analysis in the most suitable way. You can then draw the different paragraphs together and write an insightful review.

Selecting a Topic

Usually, a tutor or superior at work assigns the article review, although the writer will sometimes have to select a topic by themselves. In these cases, writers often select subject matter that interests them. If, however, you are not sure what article to choose, you could ask trusted friends or colleagues for advice and recommendations. It may help to browse through a few books that deal with your topic because these can often provide relevant reference materials.

Another thing that is essential when choosing a suitable article for review is to ascertain if you like treatment and content and that you understand it. Scan a few parts of the article and pay attention to style, vocabulary, etc. while you do so. 

Main Points for Consideration

  • You will need to write a summary of the article you have been assigned. You should number all main points and provide a brief description.
  • You also need to evaluate the article. This involves assessing how important its content is.
  • You need to mention the article’s topic and how it is relevant to your field.
  • Examine the information within the article and decide if it is relevant, important, and good quality, and if it offers new insight into the subject it relates to.
  • Give your view of how well (or otherwise) you think the article is written.
  • Your conclusion should include your opinion on whether the subject matter could be made better, if it contains all required information, and if provides a full insight into the topic.

What You Should and Should Not Do

What You Should Do

  • Understand that whoever assigned the review will be expecting you to examine the article’s argument and not just describe it.
  • Try to provide as clear an explanation as possible making use of sound reasoning and sophisticated language.
  • Use a writing style that suits the article being reviewed. If the article is literary or scholarly, the style should be formal. If the article is lightweight magazine or newspaper piece, it is acceptable to use a less formal style. However, both styles should accurately adhere to the latest conventions.
  • Examine all supporting evidence in the article, evaluate the article’s references, and offer your opinion on their quality and value.  
  • Make sure all paragraphs are concise and to-the-point.

What You Should Not Do

  • Do not overlook the fact you should define and draw attention to the article’s main premise or concept.
  • Do not overlook the crucial beginning and ending of influencing sentences. Check that you have a valid thesis statement.
  • Do not overlook the fact that there are instructions you must adhere strictly to.
  • Do not economize when it comes to doing a thorough reading, an in-depth research, and writing in a clear and succinct way.
  • A lack of intention or emphasis. It needs to be clear that your aim is to provide a worthwhile summary, a sound critique of the article and its reasoning, or a comprehensive review of the research and content of the article you are working on. 
  • Allowing insufficient time for reading, researching, and taking good-quality notes.
  • Duplicating material. You should not just copy material from the article or recycle existing opinions.

Frequent Mistakes

  • A lack of intention or emphasis. It needs to be clear that your aim is to provide a worthwhile summary, a sound critique of the article and its reasoning, or a comprehensive review of the research and content of the article you are working on. 
  • Allowing insufficient time for reading, researching, and taking good-quality notes.
  • Duplicating material. You should not just copy material from the article or recycle existing opinions.
  • An absence of sound analysis. The entire purpose of this type of review is to analyze and interpret an article and not just describe it.
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