Review/Critique-(An Introduction)

Have you ever got confused about the terms review and critique? Well I was a bit unsure about the two terms and their usage in literary terms and also wanted to get some more information on these aspects. So I did my bit of research through Google. Here is a concise form of what I came across while surfing and what i understood.

A book review describes, analyzes and evaluates. Review can be positive or negative; it basically conveys your opinion, supporting it with evidence from the book. It requires you to question the information and opinions in a text and present your evaluation or judgment of the text.

The Dictionary defines Critique as an article or essay criticizing a literary or other work; detailed evaluation; review; and critiquing as reviewing or analyzing critically.
The critique should be a balanced discussion and evaluation of the strengths, weakness and notable features of the text. Good critiques also include other sources to support your evaluation. When you are critiquing someone else’s work, you are writing objectively, as a writer. Remember "Critique the writing, not the writer"

Lets have a look at different terms involved here:

Simply refers to giving an account of the text under study so as to convey the basic idea behind it.

Evaluation or judgement
Here you decide the strengths and weaknesses of a text. This is usually based on specific criteria. Evaluating requires an understanding of not just the content of the text, but also an understanding of a text’s purpose, the intended audience and why it is structured the way it is.

Analyzing requires separating the content and concepts of a text into their main components and then understanding how these interrelate, connect and possibly influence each other.

Coming back to Review & Critique, What is the difference between the two?
There is slight difference between critiquing and reviewing any text. Reviewing involves getting overall information, question that information ,making opinions of that information and at end making judgment about a information, Mentioning purpose, all good points or bad points and why that piece is written that way by a particular author. Critiquing is rather subjective and critique r not only sees the article as being reader of that article by that author only but also sees it if he or another author could have written it what might he have included or excluded from that article. It involves an experienced reader who can compare that text with the stuff he has already gone through and is often supported by references to other similar resources.

Structure of Writing Reviews:
With so many related pages available I could not help my self from going through the proposed structure for writing a review. Though there is no specific rule for writing a review but still there are some things that should be kept in mind:

Reviews, both short (one page) and long (four pages), usually have a similar structure.
a) Introduction: The length of an introduction is usually one paragraph for a journal article review and two or three paragraphs for a longer book review. Include a few opening sentences that announce the author(s) and the title, and briefly explain the topic of the text. Present the aim of the text and summarize the main finding or key argument. Conclude the introduction with a brief statement of your evaluation of the text. This can be a positive or negative evaluation or, as is usually the case, a mixed response.
b) Summary: Present a summary of the key points along with a limited number of examples. You can also briefly explain the author’s purpose/intentions throughout the text and you may briefly describe how the text is organized. The summary should only make up about a third of the critical review.
c) Critique: The critique should be a balanced discussion and evaluation of the strengths, weakness and notable features of the text. Remember to base your discussion on specific criteria. You can choose how to sequence your critique.
* Most important to least important conclusions you make about the text.
* If your critique is more positive than negative, then present the negative points first and the positive last.
* If your critique is more negative than positive, then present the positive points first and the negative last.
* If there are both strengths and weakness for each criterion you use, you need to decide overall what your judgment is. For example, you may want to comment on a key idea in the text and have both positive and negative comments. You could begin by stating what is good about the idea and then concede and explain how it is limited in some way.
* In long reviews, you can address each criterion you choose in a paragraph, including both negative and positive points.
* You can also include recommendations for how the text can be improved in terms of ideas, research approach; theories or frameworks used can also be included in the critique section.
d) Conclusion: This is usually a very short paragraph.
* Restate your overall opinion of the text.
* Briefly present recommendations.
* If necessary some further qualification or explanation of your judgment can be included. This can help your critique sound fair and reasonable.
e) References: If you have used other sources in you review you should also include a list of references at the end of the review.

Yes it may seem like filling out a form but still its better to stick to the basics, atleast initially.

Waiting for your reviews and comments..

More Readings:
1 WritingWorld
2 Zachary M. Schrag
3 Review's structure
4 Critique Guidelines


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Anonymous said...

Hitesh, I love how this is so concise and well written, would you mind if I shared this post with my students in a College dance on film class as a way to distinguish critiques from reviews?
Thanks Molly Faulkner you can email me @