How to Write Critical Reviews of Journal Articles

Write a thoughtful analysis of articles you read in scholarly journals.

Writing a critical review of an article published in a scholarly journal is a common assignment for students enrolled in a higher education course. While many students equate the word "critical" with "negative," this is not necessarily the case; it simply means the review should be objective and examine both the negative and positive aspects of the article with a keen eye. Give yourself plenty of time to outline, research and write your critical journal article review in order to turn in the best paper possible.

Write a list of questions or observations as you read the article. This can include praise for the way the author made a certain point, a question about something you didn't understand, a section you believe could have been elaborated on, or a disagreement about how the author presented certain information. This list will serve as a guide for your criticism as you outline and write your essay.

Write an outline for your essay. This should include an introduction, an unbiased summary of the article (which you will expand on in the first draft), and a list of both the positive and negative points that you noted in Step 1. Present the negative points first if the positive points outweigh them, or vice versa. Follow with a statement about the conclusion.

Write the first draft, beginning with your introduction. This must include the name of the article and journal, the author's name, and the topic or the aim of the article, along with a short statement about your overall take on the topic.

Write the summary. This should inform the reader of the overall most important points the author made in the article, and what you believe his intentions were.

Write the critical part of your review, which will be divided into a few paragraphs based on the outline you created. Cite references specifically both with the journal article and from other reliable sources to support your argument and give your review credibility. As with your outline, separate the positive from the negative points, and lead with whichever you have fewer of.

Write the conclusion for your review. This should summarize your overall thoughts on the article and add any justification you didn't mention in the body.

Write a bibliography, which should cite both the journal article as well as any other sources you used to support your points.

Kara Page has been a freelance writer and editor since 2007. She maintains several blogs on travel, music, food and more. She is also a contributing writer for Suite101 and has articles published on eHow and Answerbag. Page holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of North Texas.