Writing A Critical Analysis - The College Of Saint Rose


The College of Saint Rose Writing Center, 2011
Writing a Critical Analysis
Many believe the term “criticism” has a negative connotation and that it means condemning others’ ideas. However, criticism focuses
on evaluating both the positive and negative aspects of a text. Your main purpose is to examine how the writer expresses his/her
opinions and to determine if he/she succeeds in making a point, not merely provide a summary of what the author says.
Step 1: Things to look at while reading
Author’s Purpose
 Is the author writing to prove a point, share an opinion or information, or just because he/she has the desire to write?
 Why did the author write this text? To inform, persuade, entertain, describe…?
 Who is the intended audience?
 How does the text begin? With its subject and its thesis, a foreshadowing of its conclusions, and any suggestions as to
why the author wrote it? With an anecdote? With something that seems unrelated?
 How are the main ideas organized?
 Are explanations and interpretations found throughout the text, or in a separate section of the text, such as the
Thesis and Support
 What is the author’s main idea?
 Does the author address all aspects and possible points of view on the topic?
 What kinds of sources do the author’s information come from (primary, secondary, empirical research, etc.)?
 Are visuals used to help illustrate the main idea?
Tone of Voice
 Does the text’s word choice and tone of voice match its format and intended audience? Remember that different genres
of writing utilize different tone of voice and word choice. For example:
o Scholarly articles are written in a serious, formal manner, and the word choice includes jargon and technical
terms that imply that the author is an expert.
o Reflective essays or personal pieces are written in a less formal matter, with a conversational, even humorous,
tone. The words are less technical and the text may include slang.
 Are the words chosen used for emotional effect?
Step 2: Evaluating the author’s ideas
 Can you identify any gaps or contradictions in the writer’s logic?
 Does the author provide appropriate research to support the main point?
 Are the facts that are used accurate?
 Are all important terms defined?
 Does the author address opposing points of view?
 Is the organizational structure of the text effective? Are the author’s ideas logical? Are the ideas well-organized?
 Is the text appropriate for the intended audience?
 Do the style and wording help or hinder the author’s purpose?
 What was your reaction?
 Did you finish reading the article with unanswered questions or confusion? Did you feel satisfied with the author’s
approach? Why or why not?


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