Your journal article review is written for a reader (eg, your supervisor, lecturer, tutor or fellow student) who is knowledgeable in the discipline and is interested not just in the coverage and content of the article being reviewed, but also in your critical assessment of the ideas and argument that are being presented by the author.
Checklist for your final draft
- Have you identified the article clearly, right at the start?
- Is the author's argument clearly and objectively summarised so that your reader can recognise the theoretical approach and the range of material covered? (About a third of a short review.)
- Are the 2-3 key issues raised in this article clearly identified and discussed? (About 50-60% of the review.)
- Have you given reasons for your criticism and your approval of the article?
- Is there a final evaluation of the article's importance, based on your earlier discussion?
Drafting and writing your review
The structure of your review should include:
- an initial identification of the article (author, title of article, title of journal, year of publication, and other details that seem important, eg, it is originally a French edition, etc), and an indication of the major aspects of the article you will be discussing.
- a brief summary of the range, contents and argument of the article. Occasionally you may summarise section by section, but in a short review you usually pick up the main themes only. This section should not normally take up more than a third of the total review.
- a critical discussion of 2-3 key issues raised in the article. This section is the core of your review. You need to make clear the author's own argument before you criticise and evaluate it. Also you must support your criticisms with evidence from the text or from other writings. You may also want to indicate gaps in the author's treatment of a topic; but it is seldom useful to criticise a writer for not doing something they never intended to do.
- a final evaluation of the overall contribution that the article has made to your understanding of the topic (and maybe its importance to the development of knowledge in this particular area or discipline, setting it in the context of other writings in the field).