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CRITICAL REVIEW
A critical review is a writing task that asks you to
summarise and evaluate a text, which can be a book,
a chapter, or a journal article.
This workshop will examine the basic structure of a
critical review and focus on developing skills such as
critical analysis and summary writing.
See
http://www.lc.unsw.edu.au/onlib/critrev.html
WHAT IS A CRITICAL REVIEW?
Essentially a critical review consists of:
Helen Farrell, The Learning Centre 2012

A summary of a few key points of a text/s (book,
chapter, journal article, website, etc)
+

Considered comment related to the summary
It is an analysis of available information about a
particular topic
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STRUCTURE OF TODAY’S SESSION:
Expectations re academic literacy
 Review of reading techniques
 Review of summarising techniques
 The art of
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Helen Farrell, The Learning Centre 2012
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Critiquing
Critical reviewing
Critical analysing
Writing a conceptual paper
Evaluating
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Creating
Bloom’s Cognitive
Taxonomy
Evaluating
•“Knowing the facts” is at the base
of the pyramid
Applying
Understanding
Helen Farrell, The Learning Centre 2012
Analysing
•Each step depends on the prior
step
• Students are expected to be able
to move through all levels to create
new knowledge (especially post
grad students)
Remembering
Anderson & Krathwohl (2001)
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GETTING STARTED: CRITICAL READING
Procedure for review:
Helen Farrell, The Learning Centre 2012
1. Look at the big picture: that is, get an
overview
Titles
 Chapter headings/ journal headings
 Reference list
 Preface /Abstract
 Diagrams/ Tables/ figures
 Publisher
 How does this article ‘fit’ with the topics of your
course?

This is important to form first impressions
and is valuable for writing your
Introduction
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CRITICAL READING CONT
Helen Farrell, The Learning Centre 2012
2. Read the text thoroughly and ask yourself:
- How has this text enhanced your knowledge of
your topic?
- What questions do you still have?
- How does this text ‘fit’ with your coursework?
- What new ‘vistas’ have opened up?
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CRITICAL READING CONT

Helen Farrell, The Learning Centre 2012
3. Select concepts you are going to comment
on:
 Are they key points?
Are you still on track with your assignment
guidelines??
4. Now it is time to plan:

Organisation of concepts
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R RULES FOR SUMMARISING:
Focus on relevant aspects of the source text
 Present the material accurately
 Use your own words

Helen Farrell, The Learning Centre 2012
Strategies
1. Skim the text
(notice specialised terms)
2. Identify purpose
3. Read the text
4. Record main pts of each
section
5. Record supporting evidence 6. Consider the significance of
for main topic
what you have written
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F
CHECKING YOUR SUMMARY
Helen Farrell, The Learning Centre 2012
Consider:
1. Length
2. Vocabulary + technical terms
3. Too close to the source?
4. Have you clearly identified the source?
5. Have you highlighted significant points?
For example: Fundamentally the issue of
sustainability remains unresolved.
Source: Swales J. and Feak C. (2008). Academic Writing for graduate students. 2nd ed. Ann Arbor: Uni of Michigan Press.
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Critical Review
Summary: follows outline pattern, appropriate length
Evaluation/Critique: appropriate length
Conclusion: Restate thesis, reiterate main points
References: Which style?
Helen Farrell, The Learning Centre 2012
Introduction: Context, Thesis, Outline of main ideas
http://www.tlu.fbe.unimelb.edu.au/pdfs/helpsheets/text_t
ypes/critical%20reviews.pdf
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Two common ‘patterns’ for a
critical review:
Pattern 2:
Intro
Intro
Summary
Idea 1 + Review
Idea 2 + Review
Review
Idea 3 + Review
Idea 4 + Review
Conclusion
Conclusion
Helen Farrell, The Learning Centre 2012
Pattern 1
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THE INTRODUCTION
REQUIRES:
 Bibliographical
details
 Purpose of author (as a context)
 Author’s main argument
 Your main response
 Definition of terms ?
(If you are asked to review an issue or
theme discussed in your course, or to
review 2 or more texts on the same topic
then your Introduction must reflect this.)
( Source: The Writing Center Uni of Wisconsin- Madison www.wisc.edu/writing/handbook/
CriNonFiction_intro.html)
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Helen Farrell, The Learning Centre 2012
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THE BODY REQUIRES:
Your summary of main ideas from the set text
+
 Your discipline perspective on each of these
ideas- based on evidence sourced from additional
readings.
 Your synthesis of the ideas other researchers in
the field have generated.
 Ideas not randomly discussed! An analytical
approach required.

Helen Farrell, The Learning Centre 2012
Source: Derish, P., & Annesley, T. (2011). ‘How to write a rave review’, Clinical Chemistry 57(3), p.388-391.
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THE BODY: CONSIDERATIONS
Source: Derish, P., & Annesley, T. (2011). ‘How to write a rave review’,
Clinical Chemistry 57(3), p.388-391.
Helen Farrell, The Learning Centre 2012
Key ideas
 Limitations/ shortcomings/strengths of these
ideas
 Methodology/ discussion justified?
 Conclusions sound?
 Its contribution to the field of study (ie the value
of the study). What contribution does it make to
the body of knowledge ?

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Ways of thinking about academic paragraph structure
Basic
1. Topic
Sentence
Argument paragraph
structure
1. Claim (your
voice)
Short
cut
‘Guess what?’
Evidence
2. Supporting
sentences
Elaboration
‘Prove it!’
Examples
Explanation
Interpretation (your
voice)
‘Well, so what?’
Helen Farrell, The Learning Centre 2012
2. A variety of
possibilities according
to the task:
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Helen Farrell, The Learning Centre 2012
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CONCLUSION
 Summarises
 What
the overall worth of the text
do all these ideas mean?
 Future
 Other
TO REVIEW
directions?
comments?
Source: Derish, P., & Annesley, T. (2011). ‘How to write a rave review’, Clinical Chemistry
57(3), p.388-391.
( Source: The Writing Center Uni of Wisconsin- Madison www.wisc.edu/writing/handbook/
CriNonFiction_intro.html)
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Helen Farrell, The Learning Centre 2012
SO… TO WRITE A GOOD CRITICAL
REVIEW YOU NEED TO DEVELOP
“analytical habits of thinking, speaking,
discussing, reading and writing…to go beneath
the surface impressions and traditional myths,
mere opinions and routine clichés.

[an] understanding [of] the social contexts
and consequences of any subject matter;
discovering the deep meaning of any event, text,
technique, process, object, statement image or
situation; [and] applying that meaning to your
own context”.

Shor (1993)
Helen Farrell The Learning Centre 2011
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RESOURCES FOR WRITING A REVIEW:
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http://www.csu.edu.au/division/studserv/mystudies/learning/guides/appraisal
http://www.monash.edu.au/lls/llonline/quickrefs/2
6-critical-review.xml
http://www.csu.edu.au/division/studserv/mystudies/learning/guides/appraisal#types
http://www.tlu.fbe.unimelb.edu.au/pdfs/helpsheet
s/text_types/critical%20reviews.pdf ***
Helen Farrell, The Learning Centre 2012

www.lc.unsw.edu.au/onlib/critrev.html
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