How to Do an Article Review?
Peer review is an essential part of any academic field. Scholars’ careers depend on the reviews of their colleagues. Even if you aren’t training to be in a specialized area of research, having to review a scholarly article is good training to develop general analytical skills. While some article reviews can be quite difficult, the basic principles of doing a good article review are very simple. There are two aspects of a review: comprehension and evaluation. You should demonstrate that you understand the article, and have a definite and well-articulated opinion about it.
Here are the two steps in the pre-writing phase:
- Make sure you understand the article thoroughly. Read it several times. Take notes and highlight the main points. What was the thesis and how was it demonstrated? It’s often a good idea to go through each paragraph of the article and state what its main point is. If the article makes reference to things or uses words you don’t understand, you’ll have to do some research. If there are too many references you don’t know, this may be a sign that the article is doing a poor job of communicating (depending on how general an audience it is meant for).
- Evaluate the Article. Every academic article is an attempt to prove a point. By the time you finish reading you will probably already know whether you have been persuaded or not, but you might not know why. Is the argument logical? Make an outline of argument. Is there enough evidence, and is it compelling? What are the relative strengths and weaknesses of the article? Is it well-written? Is it original?
Here are the steps to follow in your writing:
- Introduce and summarize the article. The first paragraph should give the name of the article and author, and introduce the general problem the article is addressing. The last sentence of the paragraph should sum up your evaluation of the article: this is your thesis statement. The body of the review will be devoted both to explaining the article and critiquing it.
- Give the result of your evaluation. Be sure that you are providing constructive criticism, and not just saying whether you liked it or not. How could the article have been improved? Provide plenty of evidence for your opinions with direct quotations.
- Conclude with a summary of your findings and restating your thesis.