How to Write a Critique Paper: Tips + Critique Essay Examples

A critique paper is an academic writing genre that summarizes and gives a critical evaluation of a concept or work. Or, to put it simply, it is no more than a summary and a critical analysis of a specific issue. This type of writing aims to evaluate the impact of the given work or concept in its field.

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  • best tips on how to critique an article or a literary work,
  • a critique paper example with introduction, body, and conclusion.

💁 What Is a Critique Paper?

  • 👣 Critical Writing Steps

👀 Critical Essay Types

  • 📑 Format & Structure

🔗 References

A critique is a particular academic writing genre that requires you to carefully study, summarize, and critically analyze a study or a concept. In other words, it is nothing more than a critical analysis. That is all you are doing when writing a critical essay: trying to understand the work and present an evaluation. Critical essays can be either positive or negative, as the work deserves.

👣 How to Write a Critique Essay: Main Steps

Starting critique essays is the most challenging part. You are supposed to substantiate your opinion with quotes and paraphrases, avoiding retelling the entire text. A critical analysis aims to find out whether an article or another piece of writing is compelling. First, you need to formulate the author’s thesis: what was the literary work supposed to convey? Then, explore the text on how this main idea was elaborated. Finally, draft your critique according to the structure given below.

Critical Writing Steps Include: Critical Reading, Analyzing the Text, and Making the Draft.

Step 1: Critical Reading

1.1. Attentively read the literary work. While reading, make notes and underline the essentials.

  • Try to come into the author’s world and think why they wrote such a piece.
  • Point out which literary devices are successful. Some research in literary theory may be required.
  • Find out what you dislike about the text, i.e., controversies, gaps, inconsistency, or incompleteness.

1.2. Find or formulate the author’s thesis. 

  • What is the principal argument? In an article, it can be found in the first paragraph.
  • In a literary work, formulate one of the principal themes, as the thesis is not explicit.
  • If you write a critique of painting, find out what feelings, emotions, or ideas, the artist attempted to project.

1.3. Make a summary or synopsis of the analyzed text. 

  • One paragraph will suffice. You can use it in your critique essay, if necessary.
  • The point is to explore the gist.

Step 2: Analyzing the Text

After the reading phase, ask yourself the following questions :

  • What was your emotional response to the text? Which techniques, images, or ideas made you feel so?
  • Find out the author’s background. Which experiences made them raise such a thesis? What other significant works have they written that demonstrate the general direction of thought of this person?
  • Are the concepts used correctly in the text? Are the references reliable, and do they sufficiently substantiate the author’s opinion?

Step 3: Drafting the Essay

Finally, it is time to draft your essay. First of all, you’ll need to write a brief overview of the text you’re analyzing. Then, formulate a thesis statement – one sentence that will contain your opinion of the work under scrutiny. After that, make a one-paragraph summary of the text.

You can use this simple template for the draft version of your analysis. Another thing that can help you at this step is a summary creator to make the creative process more efficient.

Critique Paper Template

  • Start with an introductory phrase about the domain of the work in question.
  • Tell which work you are going to analyze, its author, and year of publication.
  • Specify the principal argument of the work under study.
  • In the third sentence, clearly state your thesis.
  • Here you can insert the summary you wrote before.
  • This is the only place where you can use it. No summary can be written in the main body!
  • Use one paragraph for every separate analyzed aspect of the text (style, organization, fairness/bias, etc.).
  • Each paragraph should confirm your thesis (e.g., whether the text is effective or ineffective).
  • Each paragraph shall start with a topic sentence, followed by evidence, and concluded with a statement referring to the thesis.
  • Provide a final judgment on the effectiveness of the piece of writing.
  • Summarize your main points and restate the thesis, indicating that everything you said above confirms it.

You can evaluate the chosen work or concept in several ways. Pick the one you feel more comfortable with from the following:

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  • Descriptive critical essays examine texts or other works. Their primary focus is usually on certain features of a work, and it is common to compare and contrast the subject of your analysis to a classic example of the genre to which it belongs.
  • Evaluative critical essays provide an estimate of the value of the work. Was it as good as you expected based on the recommendations, or do you feel your time would have been better spent on something else?
  • Interpretive essays provide your readers with answers that relate to the meaning of the work in question. To do this, you must select a method of determining the meaning, read/watch/observe your analysis subject using this method, and put forth an argument.

There are also different types of critiques. The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, in the article “ Writing critiques ,” discusses them as well as the appropriate critique language.

Critique Paper Topics

  • Critique of the article Is Google Making Us Stupid? by Nicholas Carr .   
  • Interpret the symbolism of Edgar Alan Poe’s The Black Cat .  
  • Examine the topicality of the article Impact of Racial/Ethnic Differences on Child Mental Health Care .  
  • Critical essay on Alice Walker’s short story Everyday Use .  
  • Discuss the value of the essay The Hanging by George Orwell .  
  • A critique on the article Stocks Versus Bonds : Explaining the Equity Risk Premium . 
  • Explore the themes Tennessee Williams reveals in The Glass Menagerie.   
  • Analyze the relevance of the article Leadership Characteristics and Digital Transformation .  
  • Critical evaluation of Jonathan Harvey’s play Beautiful Thing .   
  • Analyze and critique Derek Raymond’s story He Died with His Eyes Open .  
  • Discuss the techniques author uses to present the problem of choice in The Plague . 
  • Examine and evaluate the research article Using Evidence-Based Practice to Prevent Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia . 
  • Explore the scientific value of the article Our Future: A Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing . 
  • Describe the ideas E. Hemingway put into his A Clean, Well-Lighted Place .  
  • Analyze the literary qualities of Always Running La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L. A . 
  • Critical writing on The Incarnation of Power by Wright Mills . 
  • Explain the strengths and shortcomings of Tim Kreider’s article The Busy Trap .  
  • Critical response to Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway . 
  • Examine the main idea of Richard Godbeer’s book Escaping Salem .  
  • The strong and weak points of the article The Confusion of Tongues by William G. Bellshaw . 
  • Critical review of Gulliver’s Travels .  
  • Analyze the stylistic devices Anthony Lewis uses in Gideon’s Trumpet.  
  • Examine the techniques Elie Wiesel uses to show relationship transformation in the book Night .  
  • Critique of the play Fences by August Wilson . 
  • The role of exposition in Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart.  
  • The main themes John Maxwell discusses in his book Disgrace .  
  • Critical evaluation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 .  
  • The ideas and concept of the book The Vegetarian Imperative .  
  • Different points of view on one historical figure in the book Two Lives of Charlemagne .  

📑 Critique Paper: Format & Structure

The main parts of good critical response essays are:

  • Summary. This should be brief and to the point. Only the author’s/creator’s main ideas and arguments should be included.
  • Analysis/interpretation. Discuss what the author’s/creator’s primary goal was and determine whether this goal was reached successfully. Use the evidence you have gathered to argue whether or not the author/creator achieved was adequately convincing (remember there should be no personal bias in this discussion).
  • Evaluation/response. At this point, your readers are ready to learn your objective response to the work. It should be professional yet entertaining to read. Do not hesitate to use strong language. You can say that the work you analyzed was weak and poorly-structured if that is the case, but keep in mind that you have to have evidence to back up your claim.

Critique Paper Introduction

The introduction is setting the stage for your analysis. Here are some tips to follow when working on it:

  • Provide the reader with a brief synopsis of the main points of the work you are critiquing .
  • State your general opinion of the work , using it as your thesis statement. The ideal situation is that you identify and use a controversial thesis.
  • Remember that you will uncover a lot of necessary information about the work you are critiquing. You mustn’t make use of all of it, providing the reader with information that is unnecessary in your critique. If you are writing about Shakespeare, you don’t have to waste your or your reader’s time going through all of his works.

Critique Paper Body

The body of the critique contains the supporting paragraphs. This is where you will provide the facts that prove your main idea and support your thesis. Follow the tips below when writing the body of your critique.

  • Every paragraph must focus on a precise concept from the paper under your scrutiny , and your job is to include arguments to support or disprove that concept. Concrete evidence is required.
  • A critical essay is written in the third-person and ensures the reader is presented with an objective analysis.
  • Discuss whether the author was able to achieve their goals and adequately get their point across.
  • It is important not to confuse facts and opinions . An opinion is a personal thought and requires confirmation, whereas a fact is supported by reliable data and requires no further proof. Do not back up one idea with another one.
  • Remember that your purpose is to provide the reader with an understanding of a particular piece of literature or other work from your perspective. Be as specific as possible.

Critique Paper Conclusion

Finally, you will need to write a conclusion for your critique. The conclusion reasserts your overall general opinion of the ideas presented in the text and ensures there is no doubt in the reader’s mind about what you believe and why. Follow these tips when writing your conclusion:

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  • Summarize the analysis you provided in the body of the critique.
  • Summarize the primary reasons why you made your analysis .
  • Where appropriate, provide recommendations on how the work you critiqued can be improved.

For more details on how to write a critique, check out the great critique analysis template provided by Thompson Rivers University.

If you want more information on essay writing in general, look at the Secrets of Essay Writing .

📚 Critique Essay Examples

With all of the information and tips provided above, your way will become clearer when you have a solid example of a critique essay.

Below is a critical response to The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

When speaking of feminist literature that is prominent and manages to touch on incredibly controversial issues, The Yellow Wallpaper is the first book that comes to mind. Written from a first-person perspective, magnifying the effect of the narrative, the short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman introduces the reader to the problem of the physical and mental health of the women of the 19th century. However, the message that is intended to concern feminist ideas is rather subtle. Written in the form of several diary entries, the novel offers a mysterious plot, and at the same time, shockingly realistic details.

What really stands out about the novel is the fact that the reader is never really sure how much of the story takes place in reality and how much of it happens in the psychotic mind of the protagonist. In addition, the novel contains a plethora of description that contributes to the strain and enhances the correlation between the atmosphere and the protagonist’s fears: “The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight” (Gilman).

Despite Gilman’s obvious intent to make the novel a feminist story with a dash of thriller thrown in, the result is instead a thriller with a dash of feminism, as Allen (2009) explains. However, there is no doubt that the novel is a renowned classic. Offering a perfect portrayal of the 19th-century stereotypes, it is a treasure that is certainly worth the read.

If you need another critique essay example, take a look at our sample on “ The Importance of Being Earnest ” by Oscar Wilde.

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And here are some more critique paper examples for you check out:

  • A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Critique Paper
  • Critique on “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • “When the Five Rights Go Wrong” Article Critique
  • Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey — Comparison & Critique
  • “The TrueBlue Study”: Qualitative Article Critique
  • Ethical Conflict Associated With Managed Care: Views of Nurse Practitioners’: Article Critique
  • Benefits and Disadvantages of Prone Positioning in Severe Acute Respiratory Distress: Article Critique
  • Reducing Stress in Student Nurses: Article Critique
  • Management of Change and Professional Safety – Article Critique
  • “Views of Young People Towards Physical Activity”: Article Critique

Seeing an example of a critique is so helpful. You can find many other examples of a critique paper at the University of Minnesota and John Hopkins University. Plus, you can check out this video for a great explanation of how to write a critique.

  • Critical Analysis
  • Writing an Article Critique
  • The Critique Essay
  • Critique Essay
  • Writing a Critique
  • Writing A Book Critique
  • Media Critique
  • Tips for an Effective Creative Writing Critique
  • How to Write an Article Critique
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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Writing Critiques

Writing a critique involves more than pointing out mistakes. It involves conducting a systematic analysis of a scholarly article or book and then writing a fair and reasonable description of its strengths and weaknesses. Several scholarly journals have published guides for critiquing other people’s work in their academic area. Search for a  “manuscript reviewer guide” in your own discipline to guide your analysis of the content. Use this handout as an orientation to the audience and purpose of different types of critiques and to the linguistic strategies appropriate to all of them.

Types of critique

Article or book review assignment in an academic class.

Text: Article or book that has already been published Audience: Professors Purpose:

  • to demonstrate your skills for close reading and analysis
  • to show that you understand key concepts in your field
  • to learn how to review a manuscript for your future professional work

Published book review

Text: Book that has already been published Audience: Disciplinary colleagues Purpose:

  • to describe the book’s contents
  • to summarize the book’s strengths and weaknesses
  • to provide a reliable recommendation to read (or not read) the book

Manuscript review

Text: Manuscript that has been submitted but has not been published yet Audience: Journal editor and manuscript authors Purpose:

  • to provide the editor with an evaluation of the manuscript
  • to recommend to the editor that the article be published, revised, or rejected
  • to provide the authors with constructive feedback and reasonable suggestions for revision

Language strategies for critiquing

For each type of critique, it’s important to state your praise, criticism, and suggestions politely, but with the appropriate level of strength. The following language structures should help you achieve this challenging task.

Offering Praise and Criticism

A strategy called “hedging” will help you express praise or criticism with varying levels of strength. It will also help you express varying levels of certainty in your own assertions. Grammatical structures used for hedging include:

Modal verbs Using modal verbs (could, can, may, might, etc.) allows you to soften an absolute statement. Compare:

This text is inappropriate for graduate students who are new to the field. This text may be inappropriate for graduate students who are new to the field.

Qualifying adjectives and adverbs Using qualifying adjectives and adverbs (possible, likely, possibly, somewhat, etc.) allows you to introduce a level of probability into your comments. Compare:

Readers will find the theoretical model difficult to understand. Some readers will find the theoretical model difficult to understand. Some readers will probably find the theoretical model somewhat difficult to understand completely.

Note: You can see from the last example that too many qualifiers makes the idea sound undesirably weak.

Tentative verbs Using tentative verbs (seems, indicates, suggests, etc.) also allows you to soften an absolute statement. Compare:

This omission shows that the authors are not aware of the current literature. This omission indicates that the authors are not aware of the current literature. This omission seems to suggest that the authors are not aware of the current literature.

Offering suggestions

Whether you are critiquing a published or unpublished text, you are expected to point out problems and suggest solutions. If you are critiquing an unpublished manuscript, the author can use your suggestions to revise. Your suggestions have the potential to become real actions. If you are critiquing a published text, the author cannot revise, so your suggestions are purely hypothetical. These two situations require slightly different grammar.

Unpublished manuscripts: “would be X if they did Y” Reviewers commonly point out weakness by pointing toward improvement. For instance, if the problem is “unclear methodology,” reviewers may write that “the methodology would be more clear if …” plus a suggestion. If the author can use the suggestions to revise, the grammar is “X would be better if the authors did Y” (would be + simple past suggestion).

The tables would be clearer if the authors highlighted the key results. The discussion would be more persuasive if the authors accounted for the discrepancies in the data.

Published manuscripts: “would have been X if they had done Y” If the authors cannot revise based on your suggestions, use the past unreal conditional form “X would have been better if the authors had done Y” (would have been + past perfect suggestion).

The tables would have been clearer if the authors had highlighted key results. The discussion would have been more persuasive if the authors had accounted for discrepancies in the data.

Note: For more information on conditional structures, see our Conditionals handout .

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Chapter 8: Being Critical

8.1 What Makes a Critique a Critique?

Learning Objectives

  • Define what it means to critique
  • Explain the differences between a critique and other essay forms

This section will introduce you to another essay form instructors often ask their students to produce: the critique.

A critique is a written work critically analyzing or evaluating another piece of writing; also known as a review or critical response.

What Is a Critique?

When you see the word critique , the first thing you may think of is to criticize . In actuality, critiques do not need to look only at the negative aspects of a source; they can also focus on the positive components or even have a mix of the positive and negative elements. They are critical response papers analyzing and evaluating an original source , such as the academic journal article you are being asked to use for this assignment.

Self-Practice Exercise 8.1

H5P: Reading Critical Response

Read the following short critique, and then come up with a list of elements you believe make this a critique as opposed to an expository paper.

Vetter and Perlstein’s work on terrorism and its future is an excellent basis for evaluating views and attitudes to terrorism before the tragic events of 9/11. Written in 1991, the book provides an objective (but more theoretical) view on what terrorism is, how it can be categorized, and to what ideology it can be linked. Perspectives on Terrorism is a multifaceted review of numerous factors that impact and influence the global development of terrorism; those studying sociology or criminal justice might find ample information regarding the ideological roots and typology of terrorism as a phenomenon and as a specific type of violent ideology that has gradually turned into a dominant force of political change.

Vetter and Perlstein (1991) begin their work with the words “it has almost become pro forma for writers on terrorism to begin by pointing out how hard it is to define the term terrorism.” However, the authors do not waste their time trying to define what terrorism is; rather, they are trying to look at terrorism through the prism of its separate elements, and objectively evaluate the concept of public acceptability of terrorism as a notion. Trying to answer the two critical questions “why surrogate the war?” and “who sponsors terrorism?” Vetter and Perlstein (1991) evaluate terrorism as a unjustifiable method of violence for the sake of unachievable goals, tying the notion of terrorism to the notion of morality.

To define terrorism in its present form it is not enough to determine the roots and the consequences of particular terrorist act; nor is it enough to evaluate the roots and the social implications of particular behavioural characteristics beyond morality. On the contrary, it is essential to tie terrorism to particular political conditions, in which these terrorist acts take place. In other words, whether the specific political act is terrorist or non-terrorist depends on the thorough examination of the social factors beyond morality and law. In this context, even without an opportunity to find the most relevant definition of terrorism, the authors thoroughly analyze the most important factors and sociological perspectives of terrorism, including the notion of threat, violence, publicity, and fear.

Typology of terrorism is the integral component of our current understanding of what terrorism is, what form it may take, and how we can prepare ourselves to facing the challenges of terrorist threats. Vetter and Perlstein (1991) state that “finding similarities and differences among objects and events is the first step toward determining their composition, functions, and causes.” Trying to evaluate the usefulness of various theoretical perspectives in terrorism, the authors offer a detailed review of psychological, sociological, and political elements that form several different typologies of terrorism. For example, Vetter and Perlstein (1991) refer to the psychiatrist Frederick Hacker, who classifies terrorists into crazies, criminals, and crusaders. Later throughout the book, Vetter and Perlstein provide a detailed analysis of both the criminal and the crazy types of terrorists, paying special attention to who crusaders are and what role they play in the development and expansion of contemporary terrorist ideology. Vetter and Perlstein recognize that it is almost impossible to encounter an ideal type of terrorist, but the basic knowledge of terrorist typology may shed the light onto the motivation and psychological mechanisms that push criminals (and particularly crusaders) to committing the acts of political violence.

Perspectives on Terrorism pays special attention to the politics of terrorism, and the role, which ideology plays in the development of terrorist attitudes in society. “Violence or terrorism can be used both by those who seek to change or destroy the existing government or social order and those who seek to maintain the status quo” (Vetter & Perlstein, 1991). In other words, the authors suggest that political ideology is integrally linked to the notion of terrorism. With ideology being the central element of political change, it necessarily impacts the quality of the political authority within the state; as a result, the image of terrorism is gradually transformed into a critical triangle with political authority, power, and violence at its ends. In their book, Vetter and Perlstein (1991) use this triangle as the basis for analyzing the political assumptions, which are usually made in terms of terrorism, as well as the extent to which political authority may make violence (and as a result, terrorism) legally permissible. The long sociological theme of terrorism that is stretched from the very beginning to the very end of the book makes it particularly useful to those who seek the roots of terrorism in the distorted political ideology and blame the state as the source and the reason of terrorist violence.

Vetter, H.J. & Perlstein, G.R. (1991). Perspectives on terrorism (Contemporary issues in crime and justice). Pacific Grove, CA, USA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

Taken from: http://www.custom-essays.org/examples/Perspectives_on_Terrorism_Essay_Vetter__Perlstein.html

List three to five elements you think make this a critique.

How a Critique Is Different

A critique is different from an expository essay which is, as you have learned, a discussion revolving around a topic with multiple sources to support the discussion points. As you can see in Self – Practice Exercise 8.1 , depending on the type of critique you are writing, your reference page could include one source only. However, as you may discuss topical ideas within the original source, you may also want to include secondary sources to which you can compare and contrast the original source’s ideas, but you need to always connect your discussion points back to the original source. Figure 8.1: Critiquing v ersus Other Essay Forms shows visual representations of what a critique structure could look in comparison to another essay, such as one that is expository or persuasive in purpose.

a mind map for a critique essay, image described in the following text

If you look at the mind map for the critique, you can see how all of the discussion points stem from and relate back to the original article and how all of the discussion points can be interconnected. Also, the bubble labelled Secondary Sources/Support shows you can integrate secondary sources to compare and contrast when discussing either rhetorical or idea points. In the second diagram, you can see that the supporting ideas relate to the central topic, but they are extensions of the topic each with their own supporting forms of evidence. There is less emphasis placed on synthesis of ideas, although this is something you can still do when composing this type of essay.

The Purpose of Critiquing

In a post-secondary environment, your instructors will expect you to demonstrate critical thinking skills that go beyond simply taking another person’s ideas and spitting out facts. They will want you to show your ability to assess and analyze any type of information you use; they will also want to see that you have used sources to develop ideas of your own. Critiquing, or critical analysis, demonstrates you are able to connect ideas, arrive at your own conclusions, and develop new directions for discussion. You are also showing you have strong background knowledge on the topic in order to provide feedback on another person’s discussion on the issue.

Critical analysis appears in many forms in the academic world. It is present when you select appropriate sources for your support; you practise it when you choose what information from those sources to include as your evidence; you demonstrate it when you start breaking down your topic to develop discussion points. Very importantly, you also use critical analysis or thinking when you synthesize, or blend, your ideas with those of experts. This means you go beyond a statement of facts and take a stance on a topic. In this case of a critique, you not only state your view on an idea or issue but also on one core source of information on that topic: you insert your ideas into the text’s conversation.

Elements of a Critique

Often people go online for to read reviews of services or products. They sometimes make personal choices based on those reviews, such as what movie to go to or which restaurant to eat at. When you ask for a recommendation, the person you are asking will usually give you a brief summary of the experience then break his or her opinion down into smaller aspects—good and bad. For example, imagine you want to visit a new restaurant, and you ask your friend to recommend a place. Here is a sample response:

There is an amazing Japanese restaurant called Mega Sushi at the corner of Main and 12th. The food, atmosphere, and service are great. The food is always excellent, and they have a lot of original creations or spins on traditional Japanese food, but it still tastes authentic. The ingredients are always incredibly fresh, and you never have to worry about ordering the sashimi. The decor is also very authentic and classic, and the entire place is incredibly clean.

The service is generally very good—they even bring you a free sample roll while you wait for your food—but it can be a little slow during the dinner rush because it is such a popular place. Also, the prices are a little high because an average roll costs $15, but for the amazing food you get, it is totally worth it! I love this place!

When you break this example into sections, you can see the first and second sentences give the reviewer’s general opinion of the restaurant; they also summarize the main components the reviewer will cover. The review is then broken into smaller categories or points. Notice that not all the points covered are positive: while the food and atmosphere are good, the service has both positive and negative aspects but is overall good. Also, the prices are high, but the writer states that people who eat there get good value for their money. Providing a generalized description first, the reviewer introduced the topic to the audience; she then analyzed individual aspects or components of the experience with examples to help convince the audience of her perspective. Not everyone may have the same positive experience, of course. What if it was someone’s first time at this particular restaurant, and she arrived during the dinner rush feeling very hungry and had to wait a long time for a table? Not knowing how good the food is and that it is worth the wait, she may just leave, so her general impression of the restaurant would probably not be favourable. Whether the experience would be positive or negative would depend on an individual’s personal experience and situation. The same is true for any critique. No two people will have exactly the same response to a source because of who they are, the time, and their prior experiences. When critiquing, you are responding to anything that sparks a response in you when you are reading a source. When reading your article, pay close attention to any time you have to reread a sentence or paragraph. Make note of this; at the time you may not know why you have an issue with that section. Just realize that there was a point where you had to stop and make a notation of some sort on the paper. Once you have finished reading, you can go back and think about what the issue actually was. Maybe the vocabulary was difficult; maybe the author’s grammar was awkward and confusing; maybe the ideas did not make sense how they were organized; maybe you completely disagreed with the idea the author presented. Also, maybe something you read really sparked your interest, and you have the same opinion as the author, or perhaps the vocabulary was academic but not overly challenging where you would need to use a dictionary (the guiding questions for each critique form provided below will help you with this). All of these responses are valid and are things you can write about in your critique. Any critique, no matter if it is of a book, an article, or a movie, needs to contain the following elements:

  • Example: In Smith’s (2009) article, he effectively argues his case for the reinstatement of capital punishment in Canada.
  • This would be the same as if you were writing a summary of any source you read.
  • You will decide on these points based on your reactions and personal preferences using the guiding questions for each of the forms below as suggestions.

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How to write a critique

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Before you start writing, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the work that will be critiqued.

  • Study the work under discussion.
  • Make notes on key parts of the work.
  • Develop an understanding of the main argument or purpose being expressed in the work.
  • Consider how the work relates to a broader issue or context.

Example template

There are a variety of ways to structure a critique. You should always check your unit materials or Canvas site for guidance from your lecturer. The following template, which showcases the main features of a critique, is provided as one example.

Introduction

Typically, the introduction is short (less than 10% of the word length) and you should:

  • name the work being reviewed as well as the date it was created and the name of the author/creator
  • describe the main argument or purpose of the work
  • explain the context in which the work was created - this could include the social or political context, the place of the work in a creative or academic tradition, or the relationship between the work and the creator’s life experience
  • have a concluding sentence that signposts what your evaluation of the work will be - for instance, it may indicate whether it is a positive, negative, or mixed evaluation.

Briefly summarise the main points and objectively describe how the creator portrays these by using techniques, styles, media, characters or symbols. This summary should not be the focus of the critique and is usually shorter than the critical evaluation.

Critical evaluation

This section should give a systematic and detailed assessment of the different elements of the work, evaluating how well the creator was able to achieve the purpose through these. For example: you would assess the plot structure, characterisation and setting of a novel; an assessment of a painting would look at composition, brush strokes, colour and light; a critique of a research project would look at subject selection, design of the experiment, analysis of data and conclusions.

A critical evaluation does not simply highlight negative impressions. It should deconstruct the work and identify both strengths and weaknesses. It should examine the work and evaluate its success, in light of its purpose.

Examples of key critical questions that could help your assessment include:

  • Who is the creator? Is the work presented objectively or subjectively?
  • What are the aims of the work? Were the aims achieved?
  • What techniques, styles, media were used in the work? Are they effective in portraying the purpose?
  • What assumptions underlie the work? Do they affect its validity?
  • What types of evidence or persuasion are used? Has evidence been interpreted fairly?
  • How is the work structured? Does it favour a particular interpretation or point of view? Is it effective?
  • Does the work enhance understanding of key ideas or theories? Does the work engage (or fail to engage) with key concepts or other works in its discipline?

This evaluation is written in formal academic style and logically presented. Group and order your ideas into paragraphs. Start with the broad impressions first and then move into the details of the technical elements. For shorter critiques, you may discuss the strengths of the works, and then the weaknesses. In longer critiques, you may wish to discuss the positive and negative of each key critical question in individual paragraphs.

To support the evaluation, provide evidence from the work itself, such as a quote or example, and you should also cite evidence from related sources. Explain how this evidence supports your evaluation of the work.

This is usually a very brief paragraph, which includes:

  • a statement indicating the overall evaluation of the work
  • a summary of the key reasons, identified during the critical evaluation, why this evaluation was formed
  • in some circumstances, recommendations for improvement on the work may be appropriate.

Reference list

Include all resources cited in your critique. Check with your lecturer/tutor for which referencing style to use.

  • Mentioned the name of the work, the date of its creation and the name of the creator?
  • Accurately summarised the work being critiqued?
  • Mainly focused on the critical evaluation of the work?
  • Systematically outlined an evaluation of each element of the work to achieve the overall purpose?
  • Used evidence, from the work itself as well as other sources, to back and illustrate my assessment of elements of the work?
  • Formed an overall evaluation of the work, based on critical reading?
  • Used a well structured introduction, body and conclusion?
  • Used correct grammar, spelling and punctuation; clear presentation; and appropriate referencing style?

Further information

  • University of New South Wales: Writing a Critical Review
  • University of Toronto: The Book Review or Article Critique

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How to Write an Article Critique

Tips for Writing a Psychology Critique Paper

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

work essay critique

Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.

work essay critique

Cultura RM / Gu Cultura / Getty Images

  • Steps for Writing a Critique

Evaluating the Article

  • How to Write It
  • Helpful Tips

An article critique involves critically analyzing a written work to assess its strengths and flaws. If you need to write an article critique, you will need to describe the article, analyze its contents, interpret its meaning, and make an overall assessment of the importance of the work.

Critique papers require students to conduct a critical analysis of another piece of writing, often a book, journal article, or essay . No matter your major, you will probably be expected to write a critique paper at some point.

For psychology students, critiquing a professional paper is a great way to learn more about psychology articles, writing, and the research process itself. Students will analyze how researchers conduct experiments, interpret results, and discuss the impact of the results.

At a Glance

An article critique involves making a critical assessment of a single work. This is often an article, but it might also be a book or other written source. It summarizes the contents of the article and then evaluates both the strengths and weaknesses of the piece. Knowing how to write an article critique can help you learn how to evaluate sources with a discerning eye.

Steps for Writing an Effective Article Critique

While these tips are designed to help students write a psychology critique paper, many of the same principles apply to writing article critiques in other subject areas.

Your first step should always be a thorough read-through of the material you will be analyzing and critiquing. It needs to be more than just a casual skim read. It should be in-depth with an eye toward key elements.

To write an article critique, you should:

  • Read the article , noting your first impressions, questions, thoughts, and observations
  • Describe the contents of the article in your own words, focusing on the main themes or ideas
  • Interpret the meaning of the article and its overall importance
  • Critically evaluate the contents of the article, including any strong points as well as potential weaknesses

The following guidelines can help you assess the article you are reading and make better sense of the material.

Read the Introduction Section of the Article

Start by reading the introduction . Think about how this part of the article sets up the main body and how it helps you get a background on the topic.

  • Is the hypothesis clearly stated?
  • Is the necessary background information and previous research described in the introduction?

In addition to answering these basic questions, note other information provided in the introduction and any questions you have.

Read the Methods Section of the Article

Is the study procedure clearly outlined in the methods section ? Can you determine which variables the researchers are measuring?

Remember to jot down questions and thoughts that come to mind as you are reading. Once you have finished reading the paper, you can then refer back to your initial questions and see which ones remain unanswered.

Read the Results Section of the Article

Are all tables and graphs clearly labeled in the results section ? Do researchers provide enough statistical information? Did the researchers collect all of the data needed to measure the variables in question?

Make a note of any questions or information that does not seem to make sense. You can refer back to these questions later as you are writing your final critique.

Read the Discussion Section of the Article

Experts suggest that it is helpful to take notes while reading through sections of the paper you are evaluating. Ask yourself key questions:

  • How do the researchers interpret the results of the study?
  • Did the results support their hypothesis?
  • Do the conclusions drawn by the researchers seem reasonable?

The discussion section offers students an excellent opportunity to take a position. If you agree with the researcher's conclusions, explain why. If you feel the researchers are incorrect or off-base, point out problems with the conclusions and suggest alternative explanations.

Another alternative is to point out questions the researchers failed to answer in the discussion section.

Begin Writing Your Own Critique of the Paper

Once you have read the article, compile your notes and develop an outline that you can follow as you write your psychology critique paper. Here's a guide that will walk you through how to structure your critique paper.

Introduction

Begin your paper by describing the journal article and authors you are critiquing. Provide the main hypothesis (or thesis) of the paper. Explain why you think the information is relevant.

Thesis Statement

The final part of your introduction should include your thesis statement. Your thesis statement is the main idea of your critique. Your thesis should briefly sum up the main points of your critique.

Article Summary

Provide a brief summary of the article. Outline the main points, results, and discussion.

When describing the study or paper, experts suggest that you include a summary of the questions being addressed, study participants, interventions, comparisons, outcomes, and study design.

Don't get bogged down by your summary. This section should highlight the main points of the article you are critiquing. Don't feel obligated to summarize each little detail of the main paper. Focus on giving the reader an overall idea of the article's content.

Your Analysis

In this section, you will provide your critique of the article. Describe any problems you had with the author's premise, methods, or conclusions. You might focus your critique on problems with the author's argument, presentation, information, and alternatives that have been overlooked.

When evaluating a study, summarize the main findings—including the strength of evidence for each main outcome—and consider their relevance to key demographic groups.  

Organize your paper carefully. Be careful not to jump around from one argument to the next. Arguing one point at a time ensures that your paper flows well and is easy to read.

Your critique paper should end with an overview of the article's argument, your conclusions, and your reactions.

More Tips When Writing an Article Critique

  • As you are editing your paper, utilize a style guide published by the American Psychological Association, such as the official Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association .
  • Reading scientific articles can be challenging at first. Remember that this is a skill that takes time to learn but that your skills will become stronger the more that you read.
  • Take a rough draft of your paper to your school's writing lab for additional feedback and use your university library's resources.

What This Means For You

Being able to write a solid article critique is a useful academic skill. While it can be challenging, start by breaking down the sections of the paper, noting your initial thoughts and questions. Then structure your own critique so that you present a summary followed by your evaluation. In your critique, include the strengths and the weaknesses of the article.

Archibald D, Martimianakis MA. Writing, reading, and critiquing reviews .  Can Med Educ J . 2021;12(3):1-7. doi:10.36834/cmej.72945

Pautasso M. Ten simple rules for writing a literature review . PLoS Comput Biol . 2013;9(7):e1003149. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003149

Gülpınar Ö, Güçlü AG. How to write a review article?   Turk J Urol . 2013;39(Suppl 1):44–48. doi:10.5152/tud.2013.054

Erol A. Basics of writing review articles .  Noro Psikiyatr Ars . 2022;59(1):1-2. doi:10.29399/npa.28093

American Psychological Association.  Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association  (7th ed.). Washington DC: The American Psychological Association; 2019.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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  • Writing Paragraphs

How to Write a Critique in Five Paragraphs

Last Updated: January 20, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Diane Stubbs . Diane Stubbs is a Secondary English Teacher with over 22 years of experience teaching all high school grade levels and AP courses. She specializes in secondary education, classroom management, and educational technology. Diane earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware and a Master of Education from Wesley College. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 968,287 times.

A critique is usually written in response to a creative work, such as a novel, a film, poetry, or a painting. However, critiques are also sometimes assigned for research articles and media items, such as news articles or features. A critique is slightly different than a traditional 5-paragraph theme, as it is usually focused on the overall effectiveness and usefulness of the work it is critiquing, rather than making a strictly analytical argument about it. Organizing your critique into 5 paragraphs can help you structure your thoughts.

Laying the Groundwork

Step 1 Examine the prompt or assignment.

  • Does the creator clearly state her/his main point or goal? If not, why do you think that is?
  • Who do you think is the creator’s intended audience? This can be crucial to determining the success of a work; for example, a movie intended for young children might work well for its intended audience but not for adult viewers.
  • What reactions do you have when reading or viewing this work? Does it provoke emotional responses? Do you feel confused?
  • What questions does the work make you think of? Does it suggest other avenues of exploration or observation to you?

Step 3 Do some research.

  • For example, if you're critiquing a research article about a new treatment for the flu, a little research about other flu treatments currently available could be helpful to you when situating the work in context.
  • As another example, if you're writing about a movie, you might want to briefly discuss the director's other films, or other important movies in this particular genre (indie, action, drama, etc.).
  • Your school or university library is usually a good place to start when conducting research, as their databases provide verified, expert sources. Google Scholar can also be a good source for research.

Writing the Introductory Paragraph

Step 1 Give the basic information about the work.

  • For a work of fiction or a published work of journalism or research, this information is usually available in the publication itself, such as on the copyright page for a novel.
  • For a film, you may wish to refer to a source such as IMDb to get the information you need. If you're critiquing a famous artwork, an encyclopedia of art would be a good place to find information on the creator, the title, and important dates (date of creation, date of exhibition, etc.).

Step 2 Provide a context for the work.

  • For example, if you’re assessing a research article in the sciences, a quick overview of its place in the academic discussion could be useful (e.g., “Professor X’s work on fruit flies is part of a long research tradition on Blah Blah Blah.”)
  • If you are evaluating a painting, giving some brief information on where it was first displayed, for whom it was painted, etc., would be useful.
  • If you are assessing a novel, it could be good to talk about what genre or literary tradition the novel is written within (e.g., fantasy, High Modernism, romance). You may also want to include details about the author’s biography that seem particularly relevant to your critique.
  • For a media item, such as a news article, consider the social and/or political context of the media outlet the item came from (e.g., Fox News, BBC, etc.) and of the issue it is dealing with (e.g., immigration, education, entertainment).

Step 3 Summarize the creator’s goal or purpose in creating the work.

  • The authors of research articles will often state very clearly in the abstract and in the introduction to their work what they are investigating, often with sentences that say something like this: "In this article we provide a new framework for analyzing X and argue that it is superior to previous methods because of reason A and reason B."
  • For creative works, you may not have an explicit statement from the author or creator about their purpose, but you can often infer one from the context the work occupies. For example, if you were examining the movie The Shining, you might argue that the filmmaker Stanley Kubrick's goal is to call attention to the poor treatment of Native Americans because of the strong Native American themes present in the movie. You could then present the reasons why you think that in the rest of the essay.

Step 4 Summarize the main points of the work.

  • For example, if you were writing about The Shining, you could summarize the main points this way: "Stanley Kubrick uses strong symbolism, such as the placement of the movie's hotel on an Indian burial ground, the naming of the hotel "Overlook," and the constant presence of Native American artwork and representation, to call viewers' attention to America's treatment of Native Americans in history."

Step 5 Present your initial assessment.

  • For a research article, you will probably want to focus your thesis on whether the research and discussion supported the authors' claims. You may also wish to critique the research methodology, if there are obvious flaws present.
  • For creative works, consider what you believe the author or creator's goal was in making the work, and then present your assessment of whether or not they achieved that goal.

Writing the 3 Body Paragraphs

Step 1 Organize your critical evaluations.

  • If you have three clear points about your work, you can organize each paragraph by point. For example, if you are analyzing a painting, you might critique the painter’s use of color, light, and composition, devoting a paragraph to each topic.
  • If you have more than three points about your work, you can organize each paragraph thematically. For example, if you are critiquing a movie and want to talk about its treatment of women, its screenwriting, its pacing, its use of color and framing, and its acting, you might think about the broader categories that these points fall into, such as “production” (pacing, color and framing, screenwriting), “social commentary” (treatment of women), and “performance” (acting).
  • Alternatively, you could organize your critique by “strengths” and “weaknesses.” The aim of a critique is not merely to criticize, but to point out what the creator or author has done well and what s/he has not.

Step 2 Discuss the techniques or styles used in the work.

  • For example, if you are critiquing a song, you could consider how the beat or tone of the music supports or detracts from the lyrics.
  • For a research article or a media item, you may want to consider questions such as how the data was gathered in an experiment, or what method a journalist used to discover information.

Step 3 Explain what types of evidence or argument are used.

  • Does the author use primary sources (e.g., historical documents, interviews, etc.)? Secondary sources? Quantitative data? Qualitative data? Are these sources appropriate for the argument?
  • Has evidence been presented fairly, without distortion or selectivity?
  • Does the argument proceed logically from the evidence used?

Step 4 Determine what the work adds to the understanding of its topic.

  • If the work is a creative work, consider whether it presents its ideas in an original or interesting way. You can also consider whether it engages with key concepts or ideas in popular culture or society.
  • If the work is a research article, you can consider whether the work enhances your understanding of a particular theory or idea in its discipline. Research articles often include a section on “further research” where they discuss the contributions their research has made and what future contributions they hope to make.

Step 5 Use examples for each point.

Writing the Conclusion Paragraph and References

Step 1 State your overall assessment of the work.

Sample Critiques

work essay critique

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Before you begin writing, take notes while you are watching or reading the subject of your critique. Keep to mind certain aspects such as how it made you feel. What was your first impression? With deeper examination, what is your overall opinion? How did you come to this opinion? Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • While the 5-paragraph form can work very well to help you organize your ideas, some instructors do not allow this type of essay. Be sure that you understand the assignment. If you’re not sure whether a 5-paragraph format is acceptable to your teacher, ask! Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

work essay critique

  • Avoid using first and second person pronouns such as, “you”, “your”, “I”, “my”, or “mine.” State your opinion objectively for a more credible approach. Thanks Helpful 39 Not Helpful 14

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Critique an Article

  • ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-write-a-critique
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.uagc.edu/writing-article-critique
  • ↑ https://www.citewrite.qut.edu.au/write/writing-well/critique.html
  • ↑ http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/specific-types-of-writing/book-review
  • ↑ https://www.hunter.cuny.edu/rwc/handouts/the-writing-process-1/invention/Writing-a-Critique
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/esl/resources/writing-critiques/

About This Article

Diane Stubbs

To write a 5-paragraph critique, provide the basic information about the work you're critiquing in the first paragraph, including the author, when it was published, and what its key themes are. Then, conclude this paragraph with a statement of your opinion of the work. Next, identify 3 central positive or negative issues in the work and write a paragraph about each one. For example, you could focus on the color, light, and composition of a painting. In the final paragraph, state your overall assessment of the work, and give reasons to back it up. For tips on how to take notes on the piece your critiquing, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Structure an Effective Critique Essay

Table of Contents

Critique essays are about communicating an argument regarding the quality of a work you have read, seen, or heard about. The point is to convince your reader of the worth or value of the work in question. You can do this by presenting arguments backed up with evidence. If you’re new to writing this type of essay, it’s best to know the proper structure of a critique essay first.

In this article, we’ll walk you through how to structure your essays properly and ensure that you present a clear argument. We’ll also discuss the basic elements of a critique essay. 

Brown pencil and white opened book on brown table

What is a Critique Essay?

A critique essay is a type of academic writing that requires you to carefully study, summarize, and critically analyze a piece of work. It is nothing more than a critical review.

When you write a critical essay, you’ll need to understand the work and present an evaluation. Critical essays can be either positive or negative, depending on what the work deserves.

Main Elements of a Critique Essay

A good critique essay will reveal why a text is effective or ineffective. Three main elements make up a critique essay. Here are a look at what these are and their respective roles.

Your summary needs to highlight the main points or arguments of the author or creator of the piece you’re reviewing. It should be brief and to the point.

This element is also referred to as interpretation . Here you can discuss the goal the creator hoped to achieve with their work and whether they were able to achieve it.

Present the evidence you have collected to argue whether or not the author/creator’s work was convincing. Remember, this discussion should not be personal or biased.

A good analysis:

  • Points out the strengths of the resource
  • Reviews of the resource’s weaknesses
  • Provides examples (direct quotes with proper citations) to support your interpretation.

Evaluation/Response

After explaining all the significant parts of the work, it’s time to give readers your thoughts. It’s best to keep it professional but still entertaining.

Use strong language if needed. If you believe that the work you analyzed was poor and poorly structured, don’t hesitate to say so. But keep in mind that you need proof to support your claim.

Structure of a Critique Essay

By structuring your essay correctly, you can establish your argument and support it with detailed analysis. A structure also helps you practice and improve your critical thinking skills to analyze the work better.

As with any essay, the structure of a critique essay is made up of three main parts: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion.

Introduction

The Introduction is where you can set the stage or tone for your entire analysis. You can also include your summary in this section.

Write a better introduction using these tips:

  • Give the reader a brief description of the main points of your work.
  • Write a thesis statement that describes your general opinion of the work. Ideally, you should identify and use a controversial thesis.
  • Uncover valuable information about the work you are critiquing. But don’t feel the need to use all of it. This may make your essay unnecessarily long. Discuss only the ones that are of utmost importance to analyzing the work.

Your essay’s body is the largest part of your essay. It’s usually composed of three paragraphs. Here, you will present the facts that support your thesis and prove your main idea. Follow these tips for writing the body of your essay.

  • Each paragraph must focus on a specific concept defined in the examined paper. You must include arguments to support or disprove them. Make sure to use evidence from credible sources to strengthen your stand.
  • Critical essays are often written in the third person. This ensures the reader that the analysis you present is objective.
  • Discuss how well the author managed to accomplish their goals and how accurately they conveyed their point of view.
  • Remember, your purpose is to give your reader an understanding of your chosen piece of literature. Make your analysis as specific as possible.

The conclusion sums up all the central ideas of your essay. Find a way to leave a lasting impression and seal the essay meaningfully. Close off the essay by stating your thoughts on the subject matter and reaffirming your thesis. Try out these tips when writing your conclusion:

  • Summarize the analysis you have provided in the body of the critique.
  • Make a summary of the reasons why your analysis is what it is.
  • If necessary, advise on how the work you analyzed can be improved.

Wrapping Up

Critique essays evaluate any piece of literary work. You can think of it as a written evaluation of a work regarding its merit, style, and impact on society. And to write an effective piece, you must follow the proper structure of a critique essay . Try following the standard structure mentioned in this article, and you should be good to go!

How to Structure an Effective Critique Essay

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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Writing Forward

How to Critique Other Writers’ Work

by Melissa Donovan | Oct 31, 2023 | Writing Tips | 75 comments

how to critique

How to critique other writers’ work.

As a writer, it helps to be thick-skinned. Once you put your work out there, people will judge, review, and criticize it. But critiques are more helpful when they are received long before publication. In fact, critiques are one of the best ways to improve your writing.

Many writers who want critiques that will help them improve their work will find a writing partner or critique group, which is a reciprocal relationship. You won’t only be receiving critiques — you’ll be providing them too! Fortunately, the process of critiquing other writers’ work thoughtfully and intelligently will strengthen your own writing.

There’s an art to providing well-constructed and thoughtful criticism that helps a writer improve the work and that recognizes the fine line between personal preference and the objective quality of the work.

The tips below explain how to provide critiques that are helpful and respectful. If you can apply these tips to the critiques you give, then you’ll better position yourself to receive helpful and respectful critiques in return.

Don’t Crash the Party

Generally, it’s bad form to sound off on a writer’s work unless you are invited to do so. There are writers who can’t handle feedback, and often these are the ones who won’t ask for it. Chances are, they’re just going to defend their work to the bitter end, so your feedback will be little more than a waste of time. Other writers will openly declare that feedback is always welcome. It is here that you should focus your efforts, assuming your goal as a critic is to help people, and not make them feel inferior or feeble. However, your best bet is to simply limit your critiques to those writers who personally ask you for feedback. This will usually be a trade, in which you swap critiques, an arrangement that should be mutually beneficial.

R.S.V.P. with Care

Some writers ask for feedback, but what they really want to hear is how great they are. These are the narcissistic types who write more for their own egos than for the sake of the craft itself. It takes a little intuition to figure out which writers really want you to weed out all the flaws in their work and which are just looking for praise. If your critique partner asks specific questions, you should answer, but try to avoid back-and-forth arguments and getting into a position where you are defending your critique or where the writer is defending their work. Exchanges like these are a sign that this is not a beneficial or positive critique relationship.

Bring Something to the Party

If you’re giving a critique, whether in a writer’s group, a workshop, online, or with a friend, you should take the time to really read a piece before you construct your feedback. Read every line carefully and make notes, mark it up as you go, and then jot down your thoughts when you’ve finished reading. If time and the length of the piece allow, give it a second reading, because that’s often where things really click or stick out. There’s nothing worse than receiving half-baked feedback. It’s blatantly obvious when someone hasn’t put sincere effort into a critique, and it renders the critique useless while damaging the relationship.

Devour the Food, Not the Hostess

Whatever you do or say during your critique, your feedback should be directed at the writing, not the writer. Don’t start your comments with the word you  — ever. Always refer to the piece, the sentence, the paragraph, the prose, or the narrative. You are judging the work, not the individual who produced it, and though compliments aimed at the writer might be well received, there’s a subtle but significant difference between pointing out flaws in the piece versus the person who created it.

Let the Good Times Roll

When you are giving a critique, always start by emphasizing the good. This is the cardinal rule of effective critiquing, and I cannot emphasize this enough: always start by telling the writer what works and where the strengths lie. By doing this, you’re kicking things off on a positive note. Also, it’s much easier for a writer to hear where they have failed after they hear where they’ve succeeded.

Here are two examples to illustrate this point:

1. The language is effective, with strong, colorful images. I can easily imagine what’s happening in this scene. However, some of the phrases are clich és , so one way to make this even stronger would be to come up with alternatives for the more commonly used phrases, like… 2. Well, there are a lot of clichés. You should have tried to use more original word choices. But your imagery is good; I can visualize what the piece is communicating.

The first example is an appropriate critique whereas the second is both unprofessional and inconsiderate. It’s much easier to let a little air out of an inflated balloon than to blow up a deflated one. It’s especially easier on the person who is on the receiving end of your feedback.

Try to Have Fun Even if it’s Not Your Scene

Some people hate stories written in first person, but that doesn’t make a piece written in first person bad; it just makes it less appealing to the person who is turned off by it. Know the difference between your own personal preferences in terms of writing styles and try to separate these from your critiques. You can also issue a disclaimer letting the writer know that some of the elements in his or her work are not to your personal taste. If the entire style or genre is outside of your taste, then you may be doing the writer a favor by declining to critique or by recommending someone who would be a better match.

Help Clean up the Mess

Eventually, you’ll have to tell the writer where the piece falls short. Do this with grace. Avoid using strong negative language. Don’t repeatedly say things like “this is weak,” “you’re using the wrong words,” or “it’s boring.” Instead, use positive language and phrase your comments as suggestions for making improvements:

  • This word is vague. A stronger word would be…
  • A better word choice would be…
  • This could be more compelling or exciting if…

Remember, you’re there to help, not to hurt. If someone appreciates your opinion enough to ask for it, then provide it in a manner that is conductive to learning and supportive of the writer’s efforts to grow. Whenever possible, offer concrete suggestions. If you spot a weak word, try to offer a stronger replacement word.

Nurse the Hangover

There’s a good chance that no matter how gentle you are, your writer friend will feel a bit downtrodden after hearing that their piece still needs a lot of work. Many writers are tempted at this point to give up on a piece, while others will be motivated and inspired by the feedback.

After you’ve given a critique, check back with the writer and ask how the piece is coming along. Inquire as to whether your comments were helpful, and offer to read the piece again after it’s revised.

Learning How to Critique

Constructive criticism involves a little compassion. If someone cares enough about their work to show it around and invite feedback, then it’s probably something in which they are emotionally invested. If you are the person they feel is qualified to provide that feedback, then embrace the invitation as an honor, and approach it with respect.

It can be awkward at first — after all, who wants to be the bearer of bad news (and almost every critique contains at least a little bad news)? After you do a few critiques, you’ll get the hang of it, and it will become easier and more natural. Just keep these basic tips on how to critique in mind:

  • Don’t provide a critique unless you’ve been invited to do so.
  • Don’t waste time on writers who are looking for praise. Seek out writers who want feedback that will genuinely help them improve their work.
  • Take time and make an effort so you can offer a critique that is thoughtful and helpful; otherwise, just politely decline.
  • Critique the writing, not the writer.
  • Always start with the strengths, then address the weaknesses and problem areas using positive language.
  • Be objective, especially if the piece you’re critiquing is not in a style or genre that you prefer.
  • Make solid suggestions for improvement. Don’t be vague.
  • Follow up with the writer to offer support and encouragement.

Do you have any tips to add? Have you ever struggled with providing critiques to other writers? Has the critique process helped you improve your own writing? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, and keep writing.

10 Core Practices for Better Writing

75 Comments

KD

I am a romance writer (published under a pseudonym) and participate in a writer’s workshop group (I prefer they not know I actually make a living writing) and have been attending (religiously!) for more than a year (every two weeks) – I love it! But, here is the dilemma… The pieces that we workshop – most of it is good… what I mean, they are really good writers (pretty words and stuff), but the stories they are writing… not so good. So far, the reputation I have is “you are too nice…”. I don’t want to change the way they write… they do that fine… but they need better stories and they all write in the first person POV (I prefer fiction written in the 3rd POV – 1st POV is all right if the story is really good, otherwise…). I find that I can’t even get to the second page of their stuff without wanting to put it down… how do I tell them that if this were an agent or publisher they wouldn’t be “nice”? How do I give a [I think, a much needed] critique without being ‘not nice”?

Melissa Donovan

Hi KD. I think first you have to realize that you’re not doing your fellow writers any favors by holding back on the criticism, especially if they regard you as being “too nice.” That indicates they’re willing to take deeper criticism from you. But you can still be nice about it. Try starting all your critiques with the strengths: Great sentence structure and word choice, I especially like how you’ve described this character, etc. Then when you address problem areas, frame them in positive language: This scene would be more captivating if… Sometimes, you might have to be blunt: After two pages, the story just wasn’t holding my attention. It would be more compelling if… .

As for first/third POV, that is strictly a personal preference. You can certainly let your group know you prefer third, but be aware that this is subjective; a good critique always tries to be as objective as possible.

Melissa – Thank you for the very helpful feedback.

You’re welcome.

Katrina Stonoff

KD, it sounds to me like your group knows the craft of writing, but not story telling. So teach them how to tell a great story. There are specific things that can raise almost any story out of the doldrums: things like giving the POV character something they desperately want, and putting obstacles in their way of getting it; or increasing the tension; writing scenes filled with more conflict and less description/introspection, etc.

And I’m with Melissa. If they’re saying you’re “too nice,” they want to hear what they’re doing wrong. Tell them the truth — just say it gently, and don’t forget to also say (every time) what they’re doing right.

In my groups, we “sandwich” criticism between praise and encouragement.

southlakesmom

Melissa, our Writers Group is just starting to coalesce into a helpful experience rather than everyone being afraid to stick their toe in the water. As it does, I’ve tried to encourage people to give actual feedback rather than “I would have written the story this way.” So your article is perfect. I linked to it through our WG bulletin and talked about it last week.

Now, if I can only get other people to read it, we might all mature a bit more in our writing!

Thank you for the guidance.

Thank you for sharing this post with your writers’ group. I know many writers are hesitant to give honest feedback because they don’t want to hurt their peers’ feelings or cause friction. It takes a bit of patience and practice to learn how to give and receive critiques. I think once writers start to see the results (the improvements in their writing), they embrace critiques more easily. Good luck with your writing and your group.

David Eubanks

A critique is helpful when the identifited weak point in the writing can be associated to a writing principle. People who are schooled or self-educated in the principles of writing are hard to find. Consequently, beware. The cacaphony of opinions the group may offer can be misleading and confusing more than clarifying.

That’s true. It’s important for writers to choose their alpha/beta readers carefully and use caution when applying suggestions from critiques. Get a second opinion and use your best judgment.

Kiwi

I think it can help to ask the writer what it is that they are looking for. Some might want particular attention on their dialogue, structure or characters for instance. I know when I’ve asked for feedback I haven’t given any direction and therefore don’t get much back. I think if I did this it could help.

That’s a great tip to add to this list. I know when I need a critique, there are usually specific elements that I want feedback on. Thanks for mentioning this, Kiwi.

not_a_writer

Hello Melissa, and thank you for this thoughtful piece. I tried writing for an amateur website a couple of years ago and was expecting some criticism for my unpolished work. Sadly, the entirely destructive comments made, without even any word of welcome to the site, pierced my already thin skin so badly that I have been quite unable to write since; I still visit the site from time to time to try to encourage new writers but my own pretensions to being a writer were destroyed, callously, a long time ago.

My advice, which I know hasn’t been solicited, is to write to entertain yourself only; Hell, as someone once remarked, is other people – if you turn the other cheek they will strike it all the harder.

I would say that to be a writer, you need to have tough skin, and if you don’t have tough skin, then you need to cultivate it. Also, if writing is your passion, a few negative remarks or destructive comments could fuel your passion and make you want to write better. The trick is learning how to take those negative remarks and put them to work for you.

And yes, some people just write for personal reasons. There’s no law that says you have to write for a readership.

Wayne C. Long

Thanks, Melissa, for your razor-sharp piece here.

I believe that the thorniest part of this critiqueing business is how quickly some so-called critiquers get on their high horse and show off for the rest of a writing group. Experienced writers I hang out with and whose blogs I admire will tell wannabes that writing groups or workshops are not all they’re cracked up to be and should be avoided. Public humiliation is the worst, especially from those folks who have never empathized in their lives (and there are many these days in all fields).

I have witnessed firsthand how an online writers group became so heated and out of control that almost everyone left. The egos flew like wildfire!

That is why your point about specifically declining to critique work which is not in a genre or style of one’s choosing, is wise advice. Let’s take that one step further by saying that it would be very wise for a budding genre writer to choose critiquers from his/her particular genre and NOT ask for advice from those who either don’t like or have no experience in, certain writing forms. The shotgun approach is just asking for trouble and hurt feelings.

Yes, writers should have a thick skin because of the snarkiness and ego-tripping found in our line of work, especially the kind of verbal assaults proffered by those cowardly types who hide behind their false IDs and computer screens on the Internet.

But wait. There is hope. I see a new playing field opening wide which is all about inclusiveness, not exclusiveness, and that is in the ebook self-publishing field (where my own work and experience resides).

This brave new world of epublishing lets the READERS decide; not agents, not old-school publishing door-keepers, nor entitlement-minded so-called writers who have never lived in a reality-check family or academic atmosphere.

Just try to imagine a writer who, through sheer force of their unique imagination or social POV, creates a whole NEW genre. Maybe we’ll call him Mr. Poe. Or Mr. Dickens. Or maybe someone who at one time in her writing life was so clinically depressed and contemplated suicide, she eventually came to be known as J. K. Rowling. What if they had been stifled by ill-mannered writing hacks who had no clue of the greatness right under their very snotty noses?

I leave you with something biblical, a challenge which sums up this knotty critiqueing issue perfectly:

“He who is without sin, let him [her] cast the first stone.”

Thanks for your response, Wayne. When we talk about critiques, we are walking a fine line.

On the one hand, there is this attitude that people who criticize other people’s work are arrogant, egoistical elitists. How dare they tell me this sentence doesn’t sound right! Who are they to judge my characters! What’s wrong with where I’ve put my commas! The problem is that the critic might be trying to help, and the writer is the one with the big ego, the one who can’t take the constructive criticism. I have seen this many times.

On the other hand, (and this is especially problematic in online critique groups), there are lots of people spouting opinions who don’t know what they’re talking about, and this can run in two extremes: critics either compliment everything or harshly insult everything. A poorly constructed critique does more harm than good.

I usually recommend that young and new writers get their first critiques from a teacher, a professional editor or coach, or within a workshop at an accredited school (community colleges are great for this, and some offer online classes). Other writing groups and online workshops can be helpful, but by getting critiques from schools and professionals first, writers will better know what to look for in a more casual group setting and can be more judicious in choosing future critique situations. I suspect that most writers who’ve had negative experiences with online critiques simply chose poorly because they didn’t know what to look for in a critique group.

Kim Terry

Amen, Wayne and Melissa. Last night, I returned to my critique group after a year-long absence to report my good news about an agent asking for material during a pitch session and to get pointers about my work. While some were diplomatic in their critiques, others (not in my genre) appeared to misunderstand on purpose.

As not only a writer but also a college English teacher, I know the importance of letting people know their strengths as well as suggesting areas where their writing could improve. I also agree about critiquing only in one’s own genre. Some reading work from their genre, last night, received misleading advice. Others critiquing others had no work to read, themselves.

On my first night to read, someone whispered some sage advice in my ear: “Take whatever they say with a grain of salt.” That advice has served me well.

It sounds like good advice to me. I believe that to give someone guidance and advice, you have to understand what their goals are. If your goal is to write within a genre, then your writing group’s critiques should keep that in mind. It sounds like they are trying to shift your work to their goals, which I’m guessing are more along the lines of literary fiction.

Always remember, the best thing about critiques is that the writer gets to decide which ideas to use and which to discard.

Brian Foster

I’ve been lucky enough not to experience such a thing. My writing group, and the critiquers on the forum that I frequent, all seem to have a passion for helping other writers improve. Yes, the comments can be brutally honest, but they are always given in the spirit of improving the work.

That’s wonderful. I’m always thrilled to hear positive stories about writing groups that truly help their members improve their work. Thanks, Brian.

Jonnie Garstka

Hi, A problem we have in our writing group is unwillingness to critique others. This is mainly because many of our members are new to creative writing having come from business or military backgrounds. Their work is clever and well written, they just don’t feel competent to “judge” other’s writings. When they do comment, I find their opinions to be clever, honest, valid and thoughtful. However, it’s like picking teeth to get them to do this. How do you get the shy “Newbies” to relax and share their wealth of experience?

Ooh, that’s a tough one. I think it starts with leading by example. One of the most valuable things I learned in a poetry workshop was how to critique. Our instructor made it very clear: first say what you liked about the piece, then offer something that could be improved.

Here’s how it worked in our workshop: the author handed out copies of their piece. We took our copy home and had a week to read it and make notes. Then we came back to class, and the author read their piece aloud. Then we went around in a circle and everyone had to say something nice and something critical. The feedback was absolutely amazing. I think everyone in the class loved it. Highly recommend as a writing workshop structure.

It might also help to get them thinking about the benefit of offering and receiving critiques. I absolutely loved getting criticism because I could use it to improve my work. Actually, to this day, this is why I love feedback and edits. The participants are not helping their fellow writers if they withhold feedback that could be useful. The trick is to teach them to be tactful (thus start by saying something nice) and how to take the feedback gracefully (accept that your writing can always be improved and embrace it).

Best of luck to you! I love writing workshops and groups.

E. J. McLaughlin

It has taken me years to find the right group of workshoppers. We are tough on one another, but it’s never personal. I’ve had my share of horrible critiquing to the point where my story had been totally rewritten and been told that grandmother’s can’t be nasty or, as a horror writer, why does there have to be blood. So at the end of the day I weeded out those who were negative towards my writing, found the courage to find what my strengths are and movd forward in my writing career. I love my writing group even if they do make my head hurt at the end of the night. Trust me that’s a good thing, means they have made me think.

Outside of a classroom setting and one online critique group I found years ago (which is now defunct), I’ve found it extremely challenging to find good critique groups and partners, online or off. So I’m glad to hear that you found a great group of workshoppers and that you appreciate them (even though they make your head hurt). Keep writing!

Paul Atreides

Great piece, Melissa!

I left a comment several weeks ago regarding the group I attend. The woman who runs the group brought a new guy in (based on your suggestion) and I thought it would be a wonderful addition; my chance to (finally) get the male perspective on my work.

His first shot at my work, the first words out of his mouth, what did he do? “This is stupid, non-sensical, boring, and a waste of time.” Needless to say, I was highly offended.

I’ve gotten the last laugh though: That same excerpt of my book advanced into Round 3 of the Amazon Breakout Novel Award contest amid Vine Reviews with “crisp and believable and hold the potential for a lot of fun,” “a great deal of style,” “I would totally hang out with these characters,” and “elements of character construction, dialogue, and other incidentals, all of which the author demonstrates at least competency in, and in some cases mastery.” Of course, there were criticisms as well: “the author could have taken a bit more time…it stretches belief,” “the ex-fiancee character is whiny.”

This new member of our group has since toned down his rhetoric and has added some useful critique, but brother! did he need to learn some manners!

Wow, I’m shocked that someone who is new to a writing group would make such comments in a critique. I was going to suggest that you ask him to be removed from the group (because that’s highly inappropriate), but it sounds like he’s learning.

It sounds like you’re getting good feedback through the contest as well. Soak up all those compliments, but don’t forget to note all the criticisms and suggestions so you can use them to improve your work! And good luck to you.

I didn’t ask for him to be removed – I called and removed myself. Through a bit of correspondence to the group, I made my case for proper manners. I never got an apology from him, but didn’t expect one. The announcement of my advancement in the Amazon competition kind of took the wind out of his sails.

The feedback through the contest has been fantastic and extremely useful in the editing process. My fourth draft is shaping up. I’m praying I make it to Round 4, which will provide a critique of the entire manuscript by Publisher’s Weekly. That would be invaluable and a worthy prize in itself!

It sounds like a great contest. I don’t think I’d participate in a writing group unless there were policies set in place regarding the appropriate way to give a critique. I was trained on critiques in college, and I’m a stickler about treating fellow writers with respect and courtesy. Having said that, if the writing group is truly helping you with your writing, then by all means, you should stick with it. Good luck in the contest!

fred

I have a coworker who wrote a training manual and completely missed the point. How do you advice them to start from scratch.

Fred in Frisco

Hi Fred. Thanks for posting your question here. You’re dealing with business writing, and your question is a bit outside the scope for this forum, which is not a place for workplace or business writing advice. In any case, if you give your coworker feedback, start by finding and pointing out three areas where the work is good (this could be proper grammar, easy-to-read sentences, or good formatting) and then break the news that it needs to be redone. Be specific in any instructions for the project. Often when writers don’t deliver what is expected, it’s because the expectations weren’t properly set to begin with. In business writing, there should be a clear and detailed project description that states the goals and purposes of the final document. Good luck.

J.L. Dobias

Hi Melissa,

I want to thank you for some insightful thoughts on this subject. I’ve been researching it because of some of my own experiences and I’m trying to get a grasp for the ‘what went wrong’ type of scenario.

I find it interesting that there was a comment here about POV writing because that highlights my experiences of what does go wrong.

POV preferences seem to fall in the subjective area more than in the objective and tend to get into the way of getting and giving constructive criticisms. And, though I agree that there is a lot of subjectivity in a persons criticism I believe its best when that can be put aside and the critic can focus on what they know and how that can help the piece that they are critiquing.

You are absolutely on the mark about highlighting the positive first. In most of the online forums I’ve been involved in a prime rule is that the writer cannot critique the critic meaning in most cases they are supposed to sit mute. When you add to that the potential that many of the mega posters get into the habit of feet first editing of punctuation and grammar and context without first reading through the material it begins to border on rude behavior towards a captive audience.

This includes, sad to say, those people who insist that first person should never be used because readers , agent, publishers and perhaps all rational humans don’t like it. Though one person did suggest to their victim a website that would show them the proper way to do first person if they really felt they had to do first person.

This is why I mostly lurk outside these forums and rarely participate. Most of these forums post guidelines similar to your suggestions. Not all users abide by them and that puts the writer-poster in an uncomfortable position and really has less to do with thin skin than outright abuse. It’s the equivalent of flaming used in forums and user groups to bully new users to keep them in line.

Since it’s very difficult to tell if a poster- no matter if they have 1 post or 100000 posts credited- is knowledgeable in anything except bullying I think its better and less frustrating to use face to face writer groups.

Just my opinion.

I agree; it’s difficult to find a quality critique forum online. In all my own searches, I’ve only found one that I thought was worthwhile, and last time I checked, it was defunct. You might have better luck with an in-person workshop. You could also work with a writing coach, start your own writer’s group (a good place to start is your local, indie bookstore), or find a writing buddy you can swap critiques with. I think eventually there will be better writing critique forums online. I’d love to see some universities launch such sites.

Melinda

I stumbled across this site while searching for information to help my creative writing high school students, and it is wonderful. What advise do you have for TEACHING people to critique? We are using The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide, and it provides some nice information, but I wonder if there is something out there to help kids who are just learning to critique the work of others. I know it will take time and practice, but I don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel if information is available. I would welcome any tips you having for training students in the art of writing critiques!

I think the most important thing I learned was to start every critique with positive feedback. That alone makes a world of difference in how the critique is received. For the people who are giving the critique, it forces them to consider the best parts of a piece before ripping it to shreds. For the people receiving the critique, it starts the feedback on a positive note. I think starting with the positive makes the negative a little easier to digest and accept, because you begin from a place of hope. Also, it’s crucial to critique the work and not the writer. Good luck with your class.

I’ll admit that I’m still learning to be an effective critiquer, but I’m not sure that I agree with the “start with the positives” approach. A couple of points:

1. I’ve heard it said that it’s best to close on a positive note, therefore lessening the impact of the negative aspects by leaving the author with the good parts.

2. The method you’re advocating seems to be primarily concerned with sparing the feelings of the writer. I definitely agree that you shouldn’t trash someone’s work needlessly, but I also want to deal with people who are seeking to improve their writing. I’ve had my work torn to pieces with no sugar coating. My writing is better for it.

Then again, maybe it depends greatly on who is being reviewed and the perceived attitude of the critiquer. If the author knows that the critiquer is only acting for his benefit, it makes the comments easier to swallow.

I see your point, and it’s one I’ve considered before. However, when you start with the negative, you set the tone for the entire feedback session on a negative note. It’s easier to let a little air out of an inflated balloon than to blow up a balloon that is completely deflated. I would definitely advocate ending on a positive note too, but instead of ending by citing the strengths in a piece, I would end by explaining how the piece could be improved. For example: this sentence is good, but it would be even better if…

A simple formula for critiques:

1. Explain what is working in the piece. 2. Highlight areas that are not working. 3. Offer suggestions for areas that could be improved.

As for sparing the feelings of the writer, that’s not quite what I am advocating. The idea is to refrain from destroying the writer’s confidence and to employ tact while criticizing their work. I find that other than simple laziness, lack of confidence is one of the biggest roadblocks for would-be writers. I’ve seen many talented writers give up their dream because they don’t think they are good enough while weaker writers succeed just because they are confident and driven.

And there’s nothing wrong with sparing someone’s feelings. If there’s a way to help someone while keeping their self-esteem intact, I think it’s worth a little extra effort.

Barry A. Whittingham

Last year my book had a bad review on Goodreads. I was given a one star out of five rating with the comment ,’Rubbish. Couldn’t finish it.’ My reaction was to say to myself, ‘Well how can you give a book a fair evaluation when you don’t even make the effort to read it to the end?’ I contacted Goodreads and used this argument to try and persuade them to flag the offending comment, but to no avail. Personally, as a matter of principle, I always finish reading a book I’ve begun, regardless of the interest it inspires. And in many cases I read it twice over. I’m frequently surprised by what I missed the first time round. I’d appreciate your comments.

Hi Barry. My understanding is that Goodreads also allows reviews on books that haven’t been read at all (i.e. books that aren’t available yet). I think if a book fails to hold readers’ interest and they stop reading it, that warrants a review, although I think readers should give books a fair chance (maybe 10% or so?). Having said that, there will always be people who like your books and people who don’t like them. The trick is to focus your energies on finding readers who will like your work and encourage those readers to leave reviews.

Tanya van Hasselt

I’m lucky to belong to a wonderful writing group ninevoices.wordpress.com which grew out of a creative writing class in Tunbridge Wells, UK. We’ve been meeting for more than 15 years now. There is always unlimited support and helpful criticism – and a lot of fun! The only occasional – and probably groundless – worry (which I expressed in a post ‘self-publishing: mixed emotions 30th November 2016, when my second novel Of Human Telling was about to appear!) is that we have all grown to love each other’s writing too much and so might not be as impartial as we need to be ,,,

Thanks for sharing your experience with your writing group, Tanya. I haven’t heard about anything like this before, and it’s an interesting dilemma. I can definitely understand how familiarity with someone’s writing style can prevent us from seeing the flaws. Criticism and feedback is important for fine-tuning any piece of writing, and for those writers who want constructive feedback so they can improve their work, it would make sense to look for some new people who can provide that feedback more objectively. Having said that, I also think it’s possible to remain objective and critical, even after years of reading someone’s work. You mentioned that you get helpful criticism from your group and also said that your worries about this matter are probably groundless, so maybe there’s no problem.

courtney l duncan

This is so helpful, thank you! I have just started a critique group with seven other people I met in a writing class, and it’s great to know we seem to be doing a pretty good job so far. We have been following most of these rules, and it seems to be beneficial to all of us. But I will definitely be referring back to this piece when I am doing my critiques, to make sure I am checking all of the boxes. Thank you!

Thanks for your feedback, Courtney. I’m always glad to hear that one of the articles here helped someone.

Book Ends

I critique in the on-line MasterClass for students in their writing classes and this has helped me tremendously.

From other articles, I was privy to some of this information and put the advice into play. This article hones my skill level.

Since “feedback” is popular in the MasterClass program, I posted this Website for students.

Thanks. Great article.

Thanks for sharing Writing Forward with students. I’m glad you’ve found the articles here helpful.

MikeU

Thank you for the opportunity to understand the requirements for providing and receiving feedback- not always an easy task if you want to be constructive. I particularly found the point about being objective, and remembering that it is the work you are critiquing and not the author.I hope to try this out tonight wth a new circle to whom I have submitted my own piece.

Thanks for your comment, MikeU.

Jim Diffendorfer

I have read 40 books this year and I find most are over wrought with the word, “that”. It’s everywhere, sometimes two or three times in one sentence. For example, “He reported that” or “It is claimed that” or “I think that”; in none of these examples is the word “that” necessary. It is meaningless, does nothing for the sentence, and is a hindrance to the reader. A second over used word is “manage”. “He/she managed to (verb); it’s best to forget the word “manage” and just write what he/she did. And why is it necessary to write, “in order to”? It’s just, “to”, delete the “in order”. Let’s write more efficiently.

Let’s try this:

In order to leave a comment on a blog, you must enter your email address.

This sentence will not work without the word to :

In order leave a comment on a blog, you must enter your email address.

However, your points about overuse of the word that are good. Technically, it’s allowed, but it’s not always necessary. In these contexts, it’s often functioning as a preposition. As with articles, we find many instances of prepositions throughout written works. Usually the sheer number goes unnoticed, but sometimes, once you notice their frequency, they draw the eye more and can become repetitive.

JP

I’m trying to develop my critique muscles. When I read pieces from my group I really only notice the technical errors. When I look at the sentence context I’m really not seeing where they can improve or what may be missing. When the group begins feedback time I prefer to go 3rd or last so that I have an idea of what others are thinking or what they are looking for. It makes me wonder if I should quit writing or maybe read more. If I could afford it, I would go back to school and take more literature classes.

Hi JP. Thanks for sharing your experience. No, you should not quit writing because you cannot find anything to critique in your writing group. Give yourself some time to observe the other critiques and try to learn from them. Look for areas in the writing that you think could be improved. When I took a writing workshop, we were taught to always offer some positive feedback first, and then follow it with suggestions for improvement. I’m not sure if this is what’s holding you back, but it could be that you simply don’t want to criticize fellow members of your group. Instead of viewing it as criticism, view it as constructive feedback. And even if you cannot ever find anything to critique, you should stick with writing. Critiques are a different skill set; while helpful to a writer, it’s not absolutely essential.

Finally, you can study good writing outside of formal education. Find books and articles. Seek out interviews with professional authors. Some elements of writing (or providing feedback) can take a long time to master. Be patient with yourself.

Digital marketing

I’m trying to develop my critique muscles. When I read pieces from my group I really only notice the technical errors. When I look at the sentence context I’m really not seeing where they can improve or what may be missing. When the group begins feedback time I prefer to go 3rd or last so that I have an idea of what others are thinking or what they are looking for. It makes me wonder if I should quit writing or maybe read more. If I could afford it, I would go back to school and take more literature classes.

Well, if you’re new to this, then you should give yourself some time to learn. And some people are just going to be better at spotting technical errors. Keep trying!

Vivienne

I was asked to critique a novel. I’ve now finished reading and am about to do the critique. This has come just in time. Thank you.

You’re welcome!

Pete Sprnger

As a former elementary teacher for many years, I treat critiques in the same manner as I treated parent/teacher conferences. I like your point about starting with positives and then delving into areas that could be strengthened by offering suggestions. Above all, we should respect anyone who has the courage to be critiqued.

I agree. Putting your work out there to be evaluated takes courage, and we should be respectful of that in how we treat the author and their work. Tact is so precious!

Cheryl

I’ve been searching the internet for an answer to a critiquing question, and so far, I haven’t found it. The question is, what do you tell writers who ask for a critique, but their grammar, punctuation or even their ability to speak English is so bad that it’s hard to read? I have a sort of writing partner. We became friends by sharing our novels. But as I made progress through his story, I start yawning and blanking out. He writes how he thinks. And that means long lines of periods, dashes, italics, and story diversions. At first, I told him I was going to edit a bit on the punctuation and grammar, but this was more for my sake than his. It delayed my feedback which put a strain on the critiquing exchange. But honestly, it’s so hard to read! But, then he wins me over with funny passages and endearing scenes. Your article is helpful, but it looks like I need practice with putting a positive spin on my approach. Thanks for the article.

Hi Cheryl. When dealing with ESL (English as Second Language), you probably shouldn’t be doing a critique. A person should be writing fluently in any given language before they are writing at a level where they are getting a critique rather than feedback on grammar, spelling, and punctuation. With that said, you might ask your friend to clean up the mechanics more before sending you material for critique. Just let him know that the draft is still too rough and the errors are distracting. Obviously, there shouldn’t be “long lines of periods, dashes, italics…” in a piece of writing that someone is asking someone else to critique. However, on the other hand, sometimes being a friend means being patient. If the work is so messy that it’s taking too long, just tell your friend that you can only give a set amount of time, and then stick to it. Good luck to you.

Maria Rodriguez

These examples were very helpful.

I’m glad you enjoyed them! Thanks, Maria.

George Philibin

The biggest issue is — does the beginning grab you and the remainder of the story keep you spellbound! Nothing else much matters at least in story telling! The true critiques should be directed to ‘how to grab and keep the reader’s interest.’ That thought should be flashed like a neon sign when critiquing, and when you think about it, all the techniques used in writing are just legs that support ‘Keeping the reader interested,’ yet ‘keeping the reader interested’ is never mentioned much!

It is important to grab the reader’s attention in the beginning and keep them interested as the book progresses, but it’s not necessarily the biggest issue. I think it depends on the book and the reader. A lot of highfalutin works of literature do not concern themselves with being compelling from start to finish (they are, as a result, often dull). I like the idea that all techniques in writing are just in support of keeping the reader interested. I’m not sure if I agree completely, but there’s something to it.

I’m talking about short stories and not literature. However, if the subject matter doesn’t grab the readers attention, then usually they wouldn’t read it, and if they do like in a college text, the reader will not remember it much.

Well George, you didn’t say anything about short stories and neither did this article. You might be interested to learn that short stories are a type of literature, and in fact, one of the oldest types of literature. Different things grab different people’s attention. A story that opens with a gripping play in a game of football would grab the attention of many readers, but it would not interest me in the slightest. In that situation, knowing your audience is even more important (so you can consider whether your target reader will be compelled by a football scene). So much in writing is subjective, and the rules and guidelines are rarely fixed.

I agee with you. Writing is subjective in which case no formula will ever answer the dos and don’ts for all target readers. In fact, as we age our likes and dislikes often change! The simple answer to writing is write! The simple answer to critiqueing is to critique and read other’s critiques.

So true, George!

I have trouble getting motivated to write now. Maybe my age, seventy-four, maybe my shifting interests, medicine I have to take or something else. Things change so much, yet with changes new and exciting avenues for writing should exist.

I find that motivation comes and goes throughout life. I have gone through periods when I need a short (or long) break from writing, but I always come back to it.

I’m 74, been to Vietnam, worked in a coal mine, a steel mill, a dairy, and finally retired from a public utility after near 30 years employment at a generating station in Western Pa. Believe me, what you say is true. Sometimes, I think the lack of interest in writing comes from diverse and compelling alternate changes in our lives.

When I was sixteen, I spend all my evenings helping a guy in his twenties work on his cars! I couldn’t wait to get to his garage after school. This when on for six months. Then one day everything stopped and I when to the pool hall after school and lost all interest in the garage. A couple of times he called me for he needed help pulling out an engine. I did help him, but after the engine was pulled, back to the pool hall I went. Then a few months at the pool hall, I started to go to the YMCA for Judo classes! Our interests can ebb and flow for reasons that I don’t understand. Nice talking with you.

Jess

I needed these tips, I’m being asked to help with a story that is full of punctuation errors, strange paragraph indents, is written in a pov style I don’t like, has almost no description and the dialogue is on the nose, the main pov is immediately agreed with and given whatever they need. I don’t even know where to start! 😵 I feel like when I first started it’s so overwhelming many things to fix and learn. Poor author! Nobody’s ever told them about these issues. How can I help them in a kind way? I’ve got to figure this out.

My first suggestion would be to filter out anything you “don’t like.” You might not like first-person, but that’s your personal taste, and commenting on it is not constructive criticism, because many people like and even prefer first-person POV.

When I’ve provided feedback on writing that needed a ton of work, I sometimes make a list of issues that I will address, and then in my notes, I will mention that the feedback didn’t look at all aspects of the writing. For example, I might focus on story and structure, so I would include notes about dialogue, but I would leave out the strange paragraph indents, and then I would note that the feedback is focused on story and structure but does not address grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting. I don’t think it’s helpful to overwhelm young and new writers with too much feedback, so that’s one way to make the process a bit gentler.

Kymber Hawke

“…Devour the Food, Not the Hostess…” I liked them all, but that is my favorite one. 😀

I’m not going to lie…I was a little proud of that one when I wrote it! Thanks, Kymber.

V.M. Sang

I’m in two online critique groups. One point that both insist on is not being personal. I always start with something good. I think that might be a throwback to when I was a teacher,marking children’s work. I’ve only ever had one egotistical person. He asked for a critique ( not in the groups). His punctuation of dialogue was wrong. When I pointed it out (nicely), his reply was “That’s how I do it and I’m not changing it.” So why ask for a crit?

George Joshua

The best article on critiquing I have ever read. It hits my bookmark box straight. Thank you for the good work.

You’re welcome! I’m glad you found this helpful. Happy critiquing!

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  • The Craft of Writing: Useful Links – Elizabeth Solorzano - […] How to Critique Other Writers’ Work by Melissa Donovan is a nice primer for how to critique another author.…
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To critique a piece of writing is to do the following:

  • describe: give the reader a sense of the writer’s overall purpose and intent
  • analyze: examine how the structure and language of the text convey its meaning
  • interpret: state the significance or importance of each part of the text
  • assess: make a judgment of the work’s worth or value

FORMATTING A CRITIQUE

Here are two structures for critiques, one for nonfiction and one for fiction/literature.

The Critique Format for Nonfiction

Introduction

  • name of author and work
  • general overview of subject and summary of author's argument
  • focusing (or thesis) sentence indicating how you will divide the whole work for discussion or the particular elements you will discuss
  • objective description of a major point in the work
  • detailed analysis of how the work conveys an idea or concept
  • interpretation of the concept
  • repetition of description, analysis, interpretation if more than one major concept is covered
  • overall interpretation
  • relationship of particular interpretations to subject as a whole
  • critical assessment of the value, worth, or meaning of the work, both negative and positive

The Critique Format for Fiction/Literature

  • brief summary/description of work as a whole
  • focusing sentence indicating what element you plan to examine
  • general indication of overall significance of work
  • literal description of the first major element or portion of the work
  • detailed analysis
  • interpretation
  • literal description of second major element
  • interpretation (including, if necessary, the relationship to the first major point)
  • overall interpretation of the elements studied
  • consideration of those elements within the context of the work as a whole
  • critical assessment of the value, worth, meaning, or significance of the work, both positive and negative

You may not be asked in every critique to assess a work, only to analyze and interpret it. If you are asked for a personal response, remember that your assessment should not be the expression of an unsupported personal opinion. Your interpretations and your conclusions must be based on evidence from the text and follow from the ideas you have dealt with in the paper.

Remember also that a critique may express a positive as well as a negative assessment. Don't confuse critique with criticize in the popular sense of the word, meaning “to point out faults.”

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Critique vs. Criticism: How to Write a Good Critique, with Examples

work essay critique

by Daniel Rodrigues-Martin

Understanding critique vs. criticism

We all assign merit to the information we experience daily. We “judge” what we hear on the news. We “evaluate” a university lecture. We “like” or “dislike” a movie, a meal, a photo, a story. We’re all critics.

Some writer-readers struggle with this point, especially if they are young to writing and editing. Sitting in a judgment of another writer’s work often feels distasteful, and doing so may conjure negative memories of when we were misunderstood or dismissed by others.

Conversely, we might be willing to share our opinions with other writers while struggling with our competence. We can’t seem to say anything constructive. If we’re critiquing on Scribophile, we may feel that we are wasting one of the author’s coveted “spotlight” critiques.

Having used Scribophile on-and-off since 2009, I’ve seen countless readers qualify their commentary on my own work (“I don’t read your genre,” “I haven’t read your previous chapters,” “I’m not good with grammar,” etc.) and I’ve seen even more cry woe on the forums about how they can’t critique because they’re not experienced enough, not educated enough, or not talented enough. Others decry the very sort of criticism writers’ groups and workshop sites like Scribophile foster, suggesting that the perfunctory nature of such criticism is ultimately more harmful than helpful.

Scribophile as a community thrives on the principle of serious commitment to serious writing, and the foundation of that commitment is reading and responding to others’ work. If you want to explore some elements helpful to improving your critiquing skills, I invite you to get yourself some hot caffeine, strap on your thinking cap, and read on.

How to write a great critique in 3 steps

Listed here are some ideas I’ve found helpful for approaching others’ work; these tips are about your mindset as a critic. These ideas are by no means exhaustive. The best teacher is experience, and I encourage all writers to reflect on the ways in which they approach others’ work as well as how they can best contribute to the growth of others on and off of Scribophile.

1. If you’re genuine, you’ll be constructive

Being constructive means coming to the critique with the ultimate goal of helping the writer improve. It means always criticizing with good intentions for the writer. It does not equate to coddling—being so nice you’ll never say a hard thing—nor does it equate to browbeating—being so hard you’ll never say a nice thing.

Being dishonest or refusing to offer valid criticism where you’re able is a disservice to the writer. Don’t shy away from honesty. Few things are more constructive than hard truths delivered by critics who genuinely want to help and who tailor their criticism with an attitude of genuine interest.

As you interact with works on Scribophile or elsewhere, remember to always approach the task of criticism with a desire to be genuinely helpful. If your criticism is built on this foundation, your commentary will be constructive regardless of your competence and experience.

2. No jerks

As for literary criticism in general: I have long felt that any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel or a play or a poem is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae or a banana split. —Kurt Vonnegut

Few things will more quickly deflate a writer than unnecessarily harsh criticism. Being honest and being brutal are not the same thing. Critics must learn to express hard truths without coddling and without being jerks.

Even rude people can be good writers with valuable insights into the craft. The problem is that if you express valid insights obnoxiously, the author won’t care. In order for people to listen, they must feel that the person criticizing them has their best interest in mind, and being harsh doesn’t communicate your best interest.

In my earliest days writing, I received some negative criticism from a writer who decided to berate me for penning a bad phrase rather than explaining to me why the phrase didn’t work. Because he was rude, I insulated myself to his criticism. Years later, I reviewed the work and realized his criticism was valid. The problem was not the content of his criticism, but its malicious delivery. Had he come to my work with the desire to be genuinely helpful, I would have listened to what he had to say, and I might even have gained some enlightenment during a formative time in my writing career. The critic did me doubly wrong not only by being obnoxious, but by retarding my growth as a writer.

Unnecessarily harsh criticism is a sign of literary and personal immaturity. Don’t be a jerk.

3. Don’t be too timid

Flattering friends corrupt. —St. Augustine

Every writer likes to be praised, especially by those not obligated to praise them due to marital status or having given birth to them. But depthless praise can be just as damaging as heartless criticism. The reason for this is that it offers no real commentary on the work.

Refusing to offer criticism where it’s needed is one of the greatest disservices you as a critic can do for other writers. Some critics may fret that their criticism might be too discouraging if fully disclosed. Critics must contend with the reality that writing is art, people have opinions about art, and those opinions are not always going to be eruptions of praise. There is no safer environment to honestly and succinctly point out problem areas in a piece of writing than a forum designed for that very purpose.

None of this is to say that you shouldn’t commend a piece of work if it truly is fantastic or that you should not highlight the gems within a work. Again: constructive criticism is honest criticism. If a work is so well-crafted in your eyes that nothing worse than grammatical hiccups are present, tell the writer. They deserve to know they’ve done a fine job. Sometimes people genuinely deserve a “well done.” Don’t skimp on encouragement where it can be authentically offered. Even if a piece is messy, do your best to find a few strong points to highlight. It will express your best interest—especially if you had a lot of hard things to say.

The difference between a critique vs. criticism is whether it’s constructive

Be constructive , meaning, have the best intentions for helping the writer. This may mean telling hard truths. If hard truths must be told, do so respectfully. If praise is deserved, offer it. Highlight the strong points of a piece—even if they are far outweighed by the negative points. Be genuine in your motivations, and genuine action will follow.

Considering authorial intent while critique writing

This section concerns authorial intent and has as its purpose the critic’s growth as an interpreter of that intent. This section is not so much about judging an author’s intent as it’s about being aware of that intent and factoring that awareness into your commentary.

1. Context is king

It is important to appreciate the amount of subjectivity and pre-understanding all readers and listeners bring to the process of interpreting acts of human communication. But unless a speaker or author can retain the right to correct someone’s interpretation by saying ‘but that’s not what I meant’ or ‘that’s not even consistent with what I meant,’ all human communication will quickly break down. —Craig L. Blomberg

While interpreters are always within their rights to read whatever they want however they want to, what they are not at liberty to decide is authorial intent —what the author desired the audience to receive from their work.

As a reader and a critic, you must be careful to understand an author’s work on their own terms while also interpreting those words. There is a substantial difference between, “This is how I’m hearing what you’re saying,” and, “This is what I say your words mean.” Don’t presume to tell an author what their work is supposed to mean, but do tell them how you’re interpreting what they’ve written.

A work-in-progress can suffer from a variety of ailments. Contextual questions are not cut-and-dry like questions of syntax, grammar, or, to a degree, plotting. Questions of context have to do with the interaction of author intent and reader interpretation. They’re murky waters to navigate because you as the reader have to exercise a bit of telepathy; you have to try and get inside the author’s head, ultimately “What is the author trying to convey with this sentence, this piece? Who is this piece for, and will it successfully communicate with that target audience? Is it clear that there is a target audience?”

Some authors are great at genre pieces; they know all the chords to strike, they know what the tone of the piece should be, the kinds of characters who should appear. Other authors can completely muck it up. They’ll write a romance piece that reads like a technical manual or a flowery memoir with a tangle of dead-ending tangents. It’s not always easy and natural for new critics to explain why something does or doesn’t work, but innately, we know. When those moments come up, let the author know.

2. The unintended/unspoken

Asking the question, “Is that really what you meant?” isn’t always bad. All of us have been misunderstood. Sometimes the results are humorous, but other times, we’re grateful for the opportunity to correct misunderstandings.

If in your criticism you find yourself questioning the use of a word or phrase, or even of a character, idea, or plot point, it’s advisable to bring such questions to the writer’s attention. It may just be you, but it may not just be you. Unless the writer has a philosophical axe to grind, they probably mean to communicate clearly, and it should at least be made known that they may have botched it up.

Conversely, there are instances where things left unwritten speak volumes. Perhaps a character “falls off the radar” in mid-scene, and it leaves you scratching your head? It may be appropriate to point out confusing instances of the unwritten for the author’s consideration.

Because my own novel employs many neologisms, critics jumping in mid-story often highlight those neologisms to make sure I’m using them as intended. While it can get tedious to say to myself, “Yes, that is what it means,” I am always thankful for keen eyes. This is the kind of sharp, considerate criticism each of us should aim for and be thankful for if we receive it.

3. Accounting for genre and intended audience

A genre is “A category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, marked by a distinctive style, form, or content.” When reading an author’s work, it’s crucial to take into account its genre and intended audience. If you’re even-handed in your critiquing, you’ll at some point be reading a story in a genre you might not otherwise touch, and while you might wish Twilight had been a one-off rather than a worldwide phenomenon, it’s inappropriate to harshly judge an author’s work simply because you don’t like their sort of story.

Consider the question of author intent and how that intent will resonate with an intended (or unintended!) audience. Sometimes, you must ignore whether or not a story resonates with you personally. Instead, ask yourself if it would resonate with your vampire-novel-loving daughter. Are the story, plot devices, characters, and verbiage appropriate for the intended audience? If yes, why or why not? If no, why or why not? Your personal tastes should not dictate the quality of your criticism. Train yourself to offer valuable insight even on writing you’d never pay money to read.

Remember these principles when reading work outside your sphere of interest. Being constructive doesn’t mean you have to love or even like the work. If something is written well, it’s written well—prejudices aside. If you’re truly unable to be objective, you would do the writer a better service by moving on.

4. Don’t pretend to be a non-writer

A film director watches other films differently than a moviegoer. A chef tastes a meal differently than the average person. As a writer, you necessarily see stories differently than non-writers. That’s not a bad thing.

We can be helpful to other writers by sharing our gut reactions no differently than an unversed beta reader. On the other hand, writers should be able to explain with more clarity than the average person why something does or doesn’t work in a story. A writer’s insight is of a different quality than a non-initiate’s insight. Both are needed for success, because if a writer one day moves on to pitch their work to those in the literary establishment, that work will not be judged by average readers until after it has survived the professional gauntlet.

All readers have the ability to share their gut reactions, but not all readers can slip on their “writer glasses” and offer critique on that level. Good critiques provide both types of insight, so as a fellow writer, bring your full experience to bear in helping others embarking on the same journey.

Understanding intent is part of a good critique

As best as you’re able, judge an author’s work on the basis of their intent—this includes noting instances of the unintended! In consideration of genre, judge the work not on the basis of your interest in the genre, but on the author’s skill at writing a piece that strikes the proper chords within the genre they’ve chosen. It’s not possible for you to read as a reader only, so don’t pretend to be something you’re not.

What makes a good critique?

A good writer may come out of any intellectual discipline at all. Every art and science gives the writer its own special ways of seeing, gives him experience with interesting people, and can provide him with means of making a living… It is not necessary—or perhaps even advisable—that the young writer major in literature. —John Gardner

Contrary to the belief of a lot of new writers, learning to write and critique doesn’t require sixty-four credits of college English or an MFA. Plenty of writers and editors don’t hold English or Creative Writing degrees, and while I in no way wish to discourage those who choose to improve their writing and reviewing by taking the high road of formal education, neither do I wish to discourage the 98% of you reading this who haven’t and won’t be able to front the money and time for such an education.

The ability to forge valid criticism is an applied skill learned through a combination of technical knowledge and experience. We’re fortunate to live in an age where vast quantities of technical information are available at our fingertips. Contemporary writers are able to write informed literature like never before. So, too, are critics able to fact-check writers like never before.

Just as you’re willing to fact-check history or science before you include something in your story, it doesn’t hurt to do that for those you critique. Granted, they should do that themselves, but maybe they’re writing a genre you write, or maybe they’re writing about your field of work or interest? Being educated or experienced in any field will enrich not only your writing, but your critiquing. If you’re a fry cook, your ability to write or critique a scene in a modern commercial kitchen is better than that of someone who hasn’t had that experience. Because you know what it’s like to really work in a kitchen, you can speak to the authenticity of any such scene, and you can speak to the authenticity of the kinds of people who work in commercial kitchens. Your grammar may not be the best, but you still have something valuable to contribute.

Great writers are keen observers of life, and their writing both informs and is by informed by life. Bring the authenticity of your life to your writing and your criticism. You have perspectives, knowledge, and experiences others don’t. As you read and respond to authors, employ the skills and knowledge you already possess. Put your formal and informal education and your life experience to work. This is what it means to “write what you know” and, in our case, “critique what you know.”

Immerse yourself in all sorts of stories to get better at critiquing

One of the cardinal “writing for dummies” rules is that if you want to write well, you need to read a lot. I don’t doubt the validity of this statement, but books are only one medium of storytelling among many. My contention is that by immersing yourself in movies, television, and other storytelling mediums, you can learn about dialogue, plot, characterization, and all the other aspects of “storytelling” that appear no matter what medium you choose.

If you want to understand what makes a story great, seek out great stories. Immerse yourself in them. Though you may not be able to verbalize it, your innate understanding of what makes a narrative work will grow. This will improve both your writing and your critiquing.

Steal critiquing techniques from smart people–yourself included

Consider the critiques that have been most helpful to you. Why did they work? Reread them if you must. Then find a way to adapt the good things from those critiques into your own criticism.

Consider the critiques you’ve shared that have been helpful to others. What stood out to the author? You may even consider asking an author for feedback on your critique. Ask how you could have been more helpful.

Critiquing is a skill you can improve over time just like writing itself. But like writing, it takes practice and discipline. Make it easier on yourself by nurturing what works.

A reading list to improving your critique writing skills

There are many solid books on writing that will not only improve your writing, but your critical reading skills. Rather than provide you a hundred sources, here are a few I’ve been able to get my claws on, have dug into, and can personally vouch for:

Good Prose , by Tracy Kidder & Richard Todd. The writer-editor combo of The Atlantic share their wisdom through a tightly-edited, insightful, and entertaining survey of nonfiction writing that has plenty of benefit for writers of all stripes. The book’s section on “proportion and order” in narrative has revolutionized my own thinking about how stories should be structured.

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy , by Orson Scott Card. A good resource if you write these genres, Card provides practical advice on publishing, agents, etc., in addition to familiarizing the reader with dos and don’ts for writing Sci-Fi/Fantasy, including some technical questions. The book’s a bit dated by now—especially the parts about the publishing world—but there are some nuggets of timeless truth within.

On Becoming a Novelist , by John Gardner. Despite the Modernistic tendency of abusing the pronoun “he,” this may be the most formative thing I’ve read about novel writing. It’s slim, readable, practical, and comprehensive.

On Writing , by Stephen King. Something of an autobiography penned by one of the most successful authors of all time, this book is snappy, humorous, entertaining, and more than a little instructive for anyone looking to write and read better. King reminds his fellow writers that “Life isn’t a support system for art; it’s the other way around.”

Story , by Robert McKee. Considered by many to be the “screenwriter’s bible,” Story belongs in the library of every serious writer whether or not they ever aspire to the silver screen. McKee is a master of properly balancing a plot to satisfy an audience, and all writers should glean from his wisdom.

The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop , by Stephen Koch. Koch flexes his student’s muscles by providing copious citations from the masters who have graced the past few centuries of literature. The author fades into the background at points while readers are treated to the musings and experiences of Dostoevsky, Flannery O’Connor, Hemingway, and others.

The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers , by Christopher Vogler. Vogler is one of the most proficient living writers of the entertainment industry. Working primarily from the theses of the late cultural anthropologist, Joseph Campbell, Vogler illustrates the plot devices and character tropes that underlie the world’s oldest stories. Recommended for new writers of the speculative fiction genres and those who wish to write epics.

The value of criticism and critiquing

The arts too can be taught, up to a point; but except for certain matters of technique, one does not learn the arts, one simply catches on. —John Gardner

The value of criticism is twofold: First and most obviously, it helps others. Second, and maybe not as apparent if you’re new to critiquing: It improves your own writing.

As you examine the work of others, you’ll be able to see what works and what doesn’t work. You will begin to notice patterns as you edit your own writing, and you’ll begin to sift out the problem areas. It’s difficult to judge your own work objectively. Doing it for others helps you get a clear head and recognize the ways in which you do the very things you criticize others for doing.

This article hasn’t had as a goal the outlining of a criticism “process.” The reason for this is that I could no more outline a criticism process than I could outline a fiction writing process. There is no single monolithic “right way to do it” that will unequivocally work for everyone. Herein are general guidelines and considerations that I’ve found helpful over the years and that others have appreciated. If you write critiques constructively, taking consideration of what the author is trying to do, and if you do so authentically, drawing on your experiences and knowledge, you’re on the right track for writing great critiques. The details of how exactly you accomplish that will become clearer to you as you engage in criticism. As in any discipline: Seek feedback and keep going.

Appendix I: “Line edits” and “critiques”

“Line edits” and “critiques” are not the same thing. These two types of reader responses address different issues, and in order to ensure that you receive the kind of criticism you’re seeking, you need to know what you’re displaying.

A “line edit” is a thorough, line-by-line examination of a manuscript. A good line edit requires an editor with a keen eye for detail and a working knowledge of contemporary grammar, syntax, and idiomatic English. The purpose of a line edit is to make a manuscript as readable as possible by removing technical errors. Typically, works that receive line edits receive them because they’re in need of them.

A “critique” is an in-depth review, touching on characterization, plot, theme, scene structure, poetry of language, and other related factors. Notice how I didn’t list anything about spelling or proper comma usage? It’s because that’s not critiquing; that’s editing. Typically, works that receive criticism as described here are free or mostly free of errors that distract readers from the story.

No one is perfect, and one of the best tools at our disposal on Scribophile is the inline critique option. Having never read nor submitted a flawless piece of writing for review, I can tell you that no one should be ashamed to receive a line edit. There are many sharp eyes and sharp minds browsing Scribophile, and even the best writer’s eyes glaze over after so many hours of staring at a white screen.

That said, part of what is absolutely necessary to receive genuine criticism as described above is a readable text. An unreadable text has never, in my experience, provided foundation for a fantastic piece of writing. Messy prose screams “messy story.” If you want criticism of story, your text must be as clean as possible.

If you’re willing to admit that your mastery of the technicalities of writing is not the sharpest, by all means, employ the knowledge and expertise of those on this site who do; it’s a wonderful resource. Readers can’t truly resonate with your story until you weave a piece of art that makes them forget they’re experiencing a piece of art. When you’re able to achieve this, you’ve removed the hurdles preventing your reader from authentically engaging with the story you’ve created. It’s at this stage in your writing that you can consistently receive deep criticism.

This is, of course, not to say that imperfect prose can’t be critiqued. Part of writing great critiques is learning to spot the gems in the story and encouraging the writer to press onward in spite of any shortcomings. If you’re honest and genuine, this won’t be a problem.

If all else fails, list at the top of your submitted piece the sort of critique you’re seeking by highlighting specific questions. “I’d love to know how you reacted when X happened,” for example. This will encourage readers to engage with the sorts of questions you’re asking.

Appendix II: The Benefits and Limits of Critique Groups

If you understand how to best leverage critique groups, they will be helpful and formative to your growth. As written above, critiquing others helps you grow; but there is more. The benefits of critique groups are threefold.

First, broad exposure. Want to know what people outside of your social circle will think of your work? A critique group will expose your work to people of different backgrounds. You can learn how a teen writer with big dreams or a Native American ex-botanist writing a memoir in retirement reacts to your story. This is the type of demographic insight you’d pay good money for when it comes time to sell your book. Even in small chunks, it’s valuable to know how different people experience your work.

Second, many eyes forge sharper prose. If three different people all trip over the same thing in your text, the problem is most likely not those three people, but your text. Especially if your text is hot off the press, you can catch errors early, and writers tend to be sharper with these sorts of things than the general population. Go look up the cost of a professional manuscript editor in your area, and you’ll be glad for many eyes combing over your writing.

Third, and most importantly: networking. The goal of sites like Scribophile and in-person critique groups should be to develop a network of people who will read the entirety of your work. Don’t get angry at forks for not being spoons—a reader jumping in mid-story will never give you the same level of commentary as someone who’s been reading since chapter one. If you’re ready for that level of reading, you need others to agree to read the book from start to finish. Use critique groups and sites like Scribophile to build relationships. Be attentive to others and share good critiques with them. As your relationships deepen, you’ll eventually find yourself with a list of contacts to trade with. But this requires you to be the kind of person people want reading their work. Behave professionally, and over time, you’ll find yourself surrounded by likeminded individuals who will give you the kind of meaty, informed commentary you need. The rule of thumb with critique groups and workshop websites is: You get out what you put in to them.

Appendix III: Still confused?

If you have questions I have failed to address in this article, I encourage you to contact me privately here on Scribophile or to reach out on social media. I’m happy to help.

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Pfeiffer Library

Writing a Critique

  • About this Guide
  • What Is a Critique?
  • Getting Started
  • Components of a Critique Essay

Types of Critiques

There are many types of critiques. Critiques can be written on:

  • Literary works
  • Published works
  • Drafts of works
  • Policies, of any kind
  • Works of art

Anywhere that criticism can exist, a critique can follow to evaluate arguments, identify gaps, and/or make recommendations. 

Defining Critique

A critique evaluates a resource. It requires both critical reading and analysis in order to present the strengths and weaknesses of a particular resource for readers. The critique includes your opinion of the work. Because of the analytics involved, a critique and a summary are not the same. For quick reference, you can use the following chart in order to determine if your paper is a critique or a summary.

Looking for more information on writing a summary or an abstract? Check out our Writing a Summary guide . 

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How to Write a Critique Paper: Guide + Steps & Tips

Critical thinking is an essential life skill taught in academia. Critique essays help us develop this skill. However, it’s challenging to figure out how to write one independently. Our team has created this comprehensive guide to teach you how to express opinions in an academically correct manner. Here, you’ll discover step-by-step guidelines to help you write an essay. We’ve also addressed the proper essay critique format structure and provided several practical examples of how it should look. So, if you are interested and wish to learn more, start reading ASAP!

📃 What Is a Critique Paper?

  • 🔍 Critique Essay Types
  • 🥇 Critique Essay Topics
  • 🗝 How to Write a Critique Paper
  • 📝 Format & Structure
  • 🏆 Critique Paper Examples

🔗 References

A critique paper is a piece of writing that provides an in-depth analysis of another work. These include books, poems, articles, songs, movies, works of art, or podcast episodes. Aside from these, a critique may also cover arguments, concepts, and artistic performances. For example, a student may evaluate a book they’ve read or the merit of the First Amendment.

In a critique essay , one addresses the subject of the analysis, its source, intent, and purpose, in addition to its structure and content. You may present your own opinion on the analyzed work or include alternative points of view. Your paper can consist of an interpretation of what a piece of work means and an assessment of its worth.

🔍 Discover All Critique Essay Types

Now, we will detail everything you need to know about the main types of critique papers. Use the table below to determine which one will suit your essay best.

The three different types of critique papers.

🥇 19 Best Critique Essay Topics

This segment has some of the best topics for critical essays that you can use in your assignments. Make sure to look through them and find some inspiration! Some of them are sure to catch your attention.

  • Analyze the effectiveness of the justice system in curbing drug use.
  • Why are people reluctant to change their views on the Second Amendment?
  • Critical review of the moral lessons in contemporary young adult novels.
  • Is critical thinking still relevant in the modern world?
  • Analyze the health effects of fast food on the human body.
  • Describe the effects of racism on underrepresented groups.
  • Build a case for the causes of the homeless crisis in the US.
  • Unraveling motivational factors: a critique of psychological theories in the workplace.
  • Analyze the shifting of gender roles in modern society.
  • What is the impact of corruption on the economy?
  • The impact of setting and atmosphere on the reader’s experience of a book.
  • Investigate the role of mass media in decreasing racial tension in the US.
  • Analyze the use of symbolism and imagery in Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories.
  • Ethical dilemmas in medical study: critical analysis of journal articles on human trials.
  • Which themes are the most common in current TV shows?
  • Explain how fashion choices impact one’s identity.
  • Build a case for a free higher education.
  • What are the effects of social media on human communication?
  • From page to screen: A comparative critique of the book and movie versions of The Lord of the Rings.

🗝 How to Write a Critique Paper: 5 Key Steps

We recognize that tackling a critique paper without proper guidance can be time-consuming and daunting. That’s why we have outlined the steps you should take to make a detailed plan for your future essay. These five steps will guide you in analyzing work successfully and creating quality papers.

The 5 steps for writing a critique essay.

  • Explore the work. Before writing your essay, carefully examine the text you will be critiquing. Take notes relevant to your paper’s topic along the way. Pay attention to details and try noting the strengths and weaknesses of a piece of work.
  • Conduct research. Aside from inspecting the work itself, you should also thoroughly study the surrounding context. Learn everything relevant about its author, background, and cultural and historical factors. So, you will receive essential information about the research subject, allowing you to understand it better.
  • Create a thesis statement. This part usually includes a concise summary of the analysis of the work and conducted research. Students must carefully write their thesis statements to present their main argument or the work’s brief evaluation.
  • Write the critical paper. After you have composed a solid thesis statement, it’s time to write your essay. Begin by providing background data in the introductory paragraph. Follow with analysis and evidence that supports the paper’s intent. Finish with a conclusion that gives a summary of the key points and reinforcing the thesis statement.
  • Edit and revise to perfection. When you have the first draft, carefully review and edit its segments. See if the paper is structurally sound, easy to follow, and has a coherent format. Good writing provides its arguments logically, with clear connections between evidence and analysis. Pay close attention to segments that make you stumble and reread all sentences twice.

📝 Critique Paper Format & Structure

Before attempting to write your critique essay, you should familiarize yourself with its structure and form. We’ll examine each part in-depth and describe which elements they should have. It will give you an idea of how to structure your essay correctly.

Examining each component is essential after you get acquainted with the basic structure of a critique paper. We have detailed for you below.

Critique Essay: Introduction

You probably already know how essential the introduction is in a critique paper. This is why it’s vital to understand its proper structure. One should consider all elements that must be present in this part of the paper.

  • Provide the name of the critiqued work, when it was first published, and by whom.
  • Describe the thesis statement or the main idea of the paper.
  • Give the context of the work, political or social, and its importance in a discipline or an academic field.
  • Finish with a sentence that briefly evaluates the examined work and transitions into the main body.

Critique Essay: Main Body

We’ve finally arrived at the analysis, the most crucial part of creating a critique. Here, we’ll look at the structure of the main body paragraphs . This part of the article will explain what to include in your critical paper.

The body starts with a summary that explains:

  • The main points of the work.
  • How the points were achieved through characters, symbols, and various techniques.
  • The aim of the research, how it was conducted, and based on what.

The rest of the body is a detailed critical evaluation of the work that includes:

  • A systematic and thorough approach to assessing different elements.
  • An assessment of the author’s ability or lack thereof to achieve their goals with these components.
  • Supporting evidence for your arguments and evaluation.

Questions to answer while writing a critique essay.

Critique Essay: Conclusion

Lastly, let’s consider the conclusion of your critique paper. It is the time to summarize and reiterate what you have discussed in your work. An essay conclusion should contain the following elements:

  • A concise statement that summarizes the entire work.
  • A rundown of key points identified and covered in the evaluation.
  • If necessary, the conclusion may provide recommendations for others interested in getting acquainted with the work.

🏆 Great Critique Paper Examples

We believe a good sample is one of the best aids in writing a quality essay. After all, theory can be insufficient and it’s best to see something done in practice. We’ve provided several great essay examples below for you to consider.

  • Critique Against Orwell’s Style in “Animal Farm.” Orwell’s Animal Farm is a witty commentary on society and the cycle of power. To this day, the work is one of the strongest anti-Stalinist novels. Despite its themes, one of his most famous novels is often criticized for its mediocre writing style. This essay wants to advocate for this opinion through literary analysis.
  • Critique of an Adidas Promotional Strategy. Adidas is one of the world’s most fabulous clothes, shoes, and equipment producers. The corporation registers hundreds of patterns on new tech for its products every year. But this doesn’t mean that Adidas does everything right. This paper demonstrates the unethical practices the company uses in its advertising campaigns.
  • A Reader Response Critique of “A Rose for Emily.” Written in 1892, The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It talks about the role of women in the late 1800s. Back then, they were regarded as passive individuals who couldn’t think independently. This paper critically examines the text’s effectiveness as a psychological horror story.
  • Organizational Personnel Policy Critique. Personnel management covers many aspects of a company’s daily operations. It helps create a harmonious work environment that benefits all participants. However, some of the current policies are outdated and need to be adjusted. This paper critically analyzes policies that drive and evaluate performance. It also shows which changes can be applied to standard HR guidelines.

We are confident that our tips and instructions will make it easier for you to achieve great results. Besides, you can try our helpful essay topic maker to come up with writing ideas! Consider forwarding this article to your friends who may be looking for a quality guide on critical papers.

  • What Makes a Critique a Critique? – Tara Horkoff, Writing for Success, OpenTextBC
  • How to write a critique – CiteWrite, Queensland University of Technology
  • Writing a Critique – Tiffin University, Pfeiffer Library
  • Writing a Critique Paper: Seven Easy Steps – Patrick A. Regoniel, Simple Educate
  • How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay – Dan Brown, MasterClass

Table of Contents

Collaboration, information literacy, writing process, critique – a research-based guide to criticism in academic & professional writing.

  • © 2023 by Joseph M. Moxley - University of South Florida

Learn about the psychology and types of critique so you can adjust your critiques to help others' develop their writing and ideas. Critique may be formative (focused on recommended revisions and edits ) or summative (focused on grading and ranking). Critique can help writers, speakers, knowledge worker s improve or it can undermine and silence them. Learn about different feedback styles so you can discern how best to give (and receive) critical feedback. And, perhaps even more importantly, learn to moderate your emotions when receiving difficult feedback.

work essay critique

What is Critique?

Critique is the systematic evaluation and assessment of a creative or intellectual work—often a text—to analyze its effectiveness in content, structure, and style, among other factors like originality, relevance, and impact. The goal is usually either to improve the work through formative feedback or to provide a final evaluation via summative feedback.

Formative feedback aims to offer specific ways to improve a text’s ability to engage and inform its audience. For example, in an academic setting, a teacher might provide in-depth comments on a student’s essay draft, suggesting more effective ways to structure arguments or clarify points.

Summative feedback, in contrast, provides an overall assessment and often serves to justify a grade; for instance, the final letter grade on a term paper evaluates your comprehensive understanding and execution of the assignment.

Critique occurs in a variety of settings, including teacher grading, peer review, self-critique, or professional editing, each with unique conventions and objectives.

The ability to offer and receive critique is not merely an academic requirement but a transferable skill that holds value in professional and workplace settings, where textual communication often determines the success of projects and collaborations. Furthermore, effective critique fosters a culture of continuous improvement and intellectual rigor, enabling not only the refinement of individual texts but also the development of critical thinking skills vital to both academic and professional success.

Related Concepts: Contract Grading ; Empathetic Information Literacy ; Leadership ; Openness

The 6 Flavors of Critique: Your Guide in School and the Workplace 🍦

Critique is your secret sauce whether you’re in academia or the workforce. Here’s the scoop.

1️⃣ Formative Feedback: The Coach 🏋️

Think of this as real-time guidance from your professors, managers, or clients. They’re helping you tweak ongoing projects to reach their full potential. 🌟

2️⃣ Summative Feedback: The Scoreboard ⚖️

This is your final grade or performance review—your ultimate evaluation in academic or professional settings. 🏆

3️⃣ Rhetorical Feedback: The Strategy Guru 🎯

This is Sherlock Holmes meets strategic planning. It’s about understanding the “who, what, where, when, and why” behind your work. Whether it’s Audience Awareness 🎯, Medium 📝, Timing (Kairos) ⏰, Purpose 🎭, Subject 📚, Text Composition 📜, or your role as a writer, speaker, or knowledge worker 👩‍💻👨‍💻—all these elements are on the radar. 🕵️

4️⃣ Global vs. Local Critique: Big Picture to Details 🌍🔍

Global critiques focus on overarching themes, while local critiques zoom in on the finer points like sentence structure and word choice. 🖋️

5️⃣ Specialized Critiques: The Toolkit 🛠️

  • Side Notes : Quick hits for details. 📝
  • Rubric-based : Scoring key elements like organization. 📊
  • Endnotes : A recap of what rocked and what didn’t. 🎸
  • Line-by-Line Editing : A meticulous walkthrough to polish each sentence. 🧼

6️⃣ Radical Transparency: The Truth Bomb 💣

Coined by Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, Radical Transparency emphasizes a culture of open communication, honest feedback, and shared information for informed decision-making. It’s more than just being blunt—it’s about fostering trust and collaboration throughout the team. 🤝

Constructive critique is essential in this transparent culture. It offers continuous learning and improvement opportunities, making your organization—whether it’s a classroom, a startup, or a Fortune 500 company—more agile and innovative. 🌱

However, Dalio critiques traditional education for not preparing us for this level of openness. He argues that to fit into a radically transparent culture, we need the skill to both give and receive effective critique—a skill often underemphasized but crucial in both academic and professional settings. 🎓🏢

By championing Radical Transparency and effective critique, Dalio aims to create a dynamic, inclusive, and high-performing environment. His advocacy underscores the importance of these concepts not just in the business realm but in our broader journey of personal and professional growth. 🌟

Tips for Giving Critiques to Others

Before diving into the critique, it’s essential to gauge what type or genre of feedback would be most beneficial for the situation at hand. Whether it’s formative, summative, global, local, or even rooted in radical transparency, your approach should align with both the project’s stage and the specific needs of your peer or colleague.

Establish Openness for Feedback

  • Begin with an initial conversation to ensure the other party is open to critique. This sets the stage for a more constructive and receptive dialogue.

Clarify Your Intentions

  • Be explicit about your aim in offering feedback. Is it to improve the project? To offer a different perspective? Setting the tone upfront minimizes misunderstandings.

Identify Blind Spots 🎯

  • When well-versed in a subject, people can inadvertently omit crucial information. Help them see what they might be missing.

Address Emotional Biases 😌

  • Emotional investment in a topic can cloud judgment. Point out where this may be affecting the work, but do so tactfully.

Consider the Audience 👥

  • If the project seems to neglect the intended audience’s background or needs, highlight this. The goal is a message that resonates with its recipients.

Spotlight Gaps and Inconsistencies 🕵️‍♀️

  • Are there logical flaws or gaps in reasoning? Identifying these can help transform the work from “writer-based prose” to “reader-based prose.”

Summarize and Suggest 📝

  • End with a summary of the major points you’ve discussed, along with concrete suggestions for improvement.

By sticking to these tips and tailoring your feedback style to the situation, you can ensure that your critique is not only insightful but also encourages a culture of growth and improvement.

Tips for Receiving Critiques from Others

Receiving critique is an art as much as giving it. There are times to seek feedback and times when it might be premature. Recognizing when you’re ready for a critique—be it formative, summative, or another genre—will help you make the most of the process. Here’s how to gracefully and productively handle critiques.

Assess the Timing 🕒

  • Critique can be more or less useful depending on where you are in the writing process . If your project or idea is still in a nascent stage, external input may derail rather than guide you.

Be Open to Receiving Feedback 🎧

  • Whenever you do seek critique, prepare yourself mentally to be open. The objective is your growth, even if that involves some growing pains.

Manage Your Emotions 😌

  • Critique can hit close to home, but remember to separate your work from your self-worth. Breathe, listen, and manage your emotions so they don’t manage you.

Understand the Intentions 👀

  • Different critiques serve different purposes. Know whether the critique aims to guide you (formative) or evaluate your end product (summative).

Avoid Being Defensive 🛡️

  • Even if the critique stings, resist the impulse to immediately defend your choices. Instead, listen actively and ask clarifying questions.

Reflect and Consider 🤔

  • Take the time to really think about the feedback. Not all critiques will apply; you’re allowed to reject feedback after thoughtful consideration.

Understand Audience Concerns 🎯

  • If the critique suggests you’re not meeting your audience’s needs or expectations, that’s important feedback to consider in your revisions.

Apply or Adapt 🔄

  • Thoughtfully integrate the feedback that resonates with you into your work. Use each critique as a stepping stone for improvement.

Say Thanks 🙏

  • Always thank your critique-giver. Whether or not you agree with their perspective, they’ve offered you a new lens through which to view your work.

By understanding when to seek critique and being prepared to manage your reactions to it, you can maximize the benefits of feedback and minimize its potential pitfalls. Keep in mind that receiving critique is not just about immediate improvements, but also about fostering a mindset conducive to long-term growth and development.

Is all feedback useful?

Critique is a complex human phenomenon. At times critique can be messy, chaotic, and counterproductive. It can leave writers mute, feeling futile.

Feedback can be destructive, a way of controlling and silencing others. Feedback can be contaminated by jealousy and Machiavellian power moves.

Sometimes feedback is only partially correct. Truth comes in shades of gray. Not all feedback is equal. Part of professionalism in the context of composing is not to be overly emotional about tough critiques. To progress as a writer, speaker, knowledge worker . . . you need to learn to sort through critiques, reject some suggestions, and seriously consider other suggestions.

Some critiques are false or misleading. There are instances when you really do know better, when you should ignore someone’s feedback. It’s not unusual for an audience (bosses, teachers, peers) to fail to understand you because they were rushed or preoccupied. And it could be true that the draft you shared was a bit too underdeveloped for your audience to see its potential or provide helpful critiques.

What are the dangers of critique?

work essay critique

Critique can have a destructive influence on writers–particularly young people who are first learning how to write. Perhaps this is even more true for younger students who haven’t yet mastered the basics of composing , rhetoric , invention , revision , style , or editing

On occasion, people can be cruel and insensitive. Perhaps the writer struggled mightily and wrote countless drafts yet came at the document without a strong linguistic or literary background. Perhaps the writer had far less knowledge of the topic than the reader critic. Or perhaps the writer was learning a new genre and new research methods .

Aware of the emotionally charged nature of critique, writing teachers, instructors, and professors in higher-education institutions are sometimes timorous about providing real critique. Grade inflation and student evaluations have moved the grading curve in the humanities from a B to A range, especially for adjunct faculty, assistant professors, and non-tenured faculty. The result, as Garrison Keillor so aptly satirizes in the fictional community of Lake Wobegon, where “ all  the women are strong,  all  the men are good-looking, and  all  the children are  above average .”

Yet the role of critique is even more complicated than all that. Why? Because sometimes the words on the page are more than the words on the page. Sometimes they reflect the lifeforce of the rhetor. Sometimes for the writer, the words on the page are more than the words on a page. This phenomenon has been described by Compositionists as writer-based prose .

The idea behind writer-based prose is that the reviewer may not really know what the writer intended because of the ambiguities of their text. Sometimes, the writer-based prose has amazing innovative potential that the would-be critic is simply not sophisticated enough to discern. Appropriating the student’s text–that is rewriting it as the reviewer would prefer it to be written–could be a destructive act. To help the writer’s original intention be realized, the reviewer may be better off just sharing to the rhetor how confusing they find the text to be.

Elbow , P., &  Belanoff , P. (1989). Sharing and responding . McGraw-Hill.

Related Articles:

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Provide Feedback in Group Situations

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How to Structure and Write an Effective Critique Paper

Critique papers are an essential part of academic writing, especially in the fields of humanities and social sciences. They involve analyzing a piece of work and objectively evaluating its strengths and weaknesses. Writing a critique paper can be challenging, requiring careful reading, research, and analysis. Yet, it is possible to produce a high-quality essay with careful planning and attention to detail.

This article will teach you how to write an article critique by explaining the types of critique essays, their structure, and the steps involved in how to write a critique essay. The article also provides essay tips for producing a well-written and effective critique.

What is a Critique Paper?

A critique paper is an academic paper as a response to a body of work, such as a play, concept, scholarly article, poetry, book, or research paper. Its purpose is to objectively assess the work in question, highlighting its strengths and weaknesses. But also to provide a detailed analysis of its content, structure, and methodology.

This kind of essay can be one of the trickiest assignments, and not everyone can produce a well-scrutinized, original piece of writing. That’s why many students reach for assistance from analytical essay writing services that guarantee to handle the job with the help of professional writers and experts. These services proved to be of high quality and effective support to many schoolers who chose to try them in a variety of different disciplines.

Knowing how to write an article critique requires careful reading, analysis, and an evaluative approach. A well-written critique paper example demonstrates the writer’s ability to analyze and evaluate works. It should also be organized logically, guiding the reader through the analysis. Additionally, writers should be aware of their biases and assumptions and strive to critique objectively. On a final note, it’s essential to review the guidelines and follow the required structure. This is to ensure that the article critique meets the assignment’s expectations.

Types of Critical Essays

There are several types of essays of this kind, each with its approach and focus. To follow we have a list of the most common ones.

Descriptive

A descriptive critical essay combines elements of descriptive writing with a thorough analysis. In this type of essay, the writer describes a particular work in detail and then evaluates it based on certain criteria. They can provide a deep and insightful understanding of the work using sensory details and descriptive language.

An evaluative essay consists of a personal judgment to evaluate the value or effectiveness of a particular work or idea. In this type of essay, the writer analyzes the work and expresses their opinion on its merits or shortcomings. At the same time, they must avoid personal bias and focus on facts rather than one’s opinions or feelings. However, it’s also essential to provide a personal perspective and interpretation of the work as long as it’s supported by evidence.

Interpretive

This type of essay involves analyzing and interpreting the meaning and significance of the work being evaluated. It delves deeper into the themes, symbolism, and underlying conveyed messages. When writing an interpretive essay, it’s important to be clear and concise. Avoid confusing the reader by using jargon or unnecessarily complex language.

Structure of Critique Paper

The structure of a typical critique essay example includes an introduction, a summary, an analysis, and a conclusion. The paper format is a crucial element. Just like when you write your research papers , a critique benefits from a clear one to guide the reader. Therefore, work on defining the critique essay outline before starting the writing process. One of the most common formatting styles to adopt is the APA format (APA: American Psychological Association), which has specific rules and guidelines. And keep in mind that some specific elements should be included in each section:

Introduction: The introduction’s function is to provide background relevant information. It should also include the thesis statement, which is the writer’s main argument or position on the topic. The thesis statement should be clear and specific and presented in a way that engages the reader.

Summary: The summary provides an overview of the text. It must be objective, unbiased, and accurately summarize the piece’s main points. The summary has to be brief and to the point and should only include the most important details of the work.

Analysis: The analysis is where the writer provides their evaluation of the text being critiqued. This section is the most detailed and extensive part of the paper, containing the facts that prove your main argument and support your thesis. The analysis should focus on the thesis statement and provide a clear and logical argument.

Conclusion: In the conclusion, the paper’s main points are summarized, and the thesis statement is restated to emphasize the writer’s main position. It should provide a final evaluation of the work and include recommendations for improvement.

Essential Steps to Write a Critique Essay

Critique writing requires a thoughtful and detailed approach. You can find below the essential steps to follow:

Read and observe the work:

Before beginning the essay, you should read and observe the work, taking notes on its relevant elements. It is crucial to pay attention to details and to identify both strengths and weaknesses.

Conduct research:

In addition to analyzing the work, you need to research the author, director, or artist and the work’s historical and cultural context. This step can be time and effort-consuming. That’s why as a student who’s probably stuck with many assignments, you can consider to pay for research paper , which will solve the problem most efficiently. The research can provide valuable insights into the work and help you develop a more informed critique.

Develop a thesis statement:

Based on the analysis of the work and any research conducted, you should develop a clear and specific thesis statement that accurately presents your main argument or evaluation of the piece.

Write your critique:

Once you have your thesis statement, you can begin writing your critique essay. Begin by providing some background information on the work in an introduction. In the body of your essay, provide evidence and analysis to support your evaluation. Use specific examples and quotes from the text to support your arguments. Consider including external sources to provide additional context or compare the work to similar works. Finally, end your essay with a conclusion summarizing your main points and restating your thesis statement.

Revise and edit:

After completing the first draft of your essay, you should revise and edit it carefully. Pay attention to your argument’s structure, clarity, and coherence. Also, ensure that your essay logically progresses from one concept to the next. It’s important to note that when you format an essay , considerations may vary depending on the assignment’s specific requirements. Some may require additional sections, such as a discussion of the author’s background or a comparison to other works.

How to start a critique paper?

Starting a critique paper requires careful consideration and preparation. It is important to read and understand the subject thoroughly, including its purpose, structure, and context. Once you have a clear understanding of the subject, you should identify specific criteria to use in your evaluation, such as style, structure, effectiveness, relevance, and accuracy. Taking notes on the subject’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement will help you organize your thoughts, and creating an outline that includes the introduction, analysis, and conclusion will ensure a well-structured paper. Finally, a strong thesis statement that clearly states your evaluation of the subject and the criteria you will use to evaluate it is crucial to the success of your critique paper.

How can I write a critique paper on a research article?

To write a critique paper on a research article, it is essential to consider key areas such as the research question and hypothesis, methodology, results, and overall evaluation. Firstly, determine whether the research question is clear, relevant, and testable. Secondly, evaluate the methodology used in the study to determine whether it’s appropriate for the research question. Thirdly, analyze the results presented in the research article to determine whether they are consistent with the research question and hypothesis. Lastly, evaluate the overall quality and contribution of the research article to the field. By considering these areas, you can provide a comprehensive critique of the research article.

What is the difference between summarizing and critiquing an article?

Many students struggle to distinguish between the two. They often summarize the work, neglecting to adopt a personal approach and use analytical skills. In such cases, custom essay writing service Edusson is the best option to handle the job for you. It also helps you improve your critical thinking and practical skills.

Related posts:

  • 6 Step Process for Essay Writing
  • How to Write a Diagnostic Essay (Without Fail)
  • The Full Guide to Writing Comparison Essays with Point-by-Point Method
  • Footnotes 101: A Guide to Proper Formatting

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November 13, 2022 By Anne R. Allen 24 Comments

Critiquing 101: Ten Do’s and Don’ts for Giving Helpful Critiques

Critiquing 101: Ten Do’s and Don’ts for Giving Helpful Critiques

Bad critiquing can pop somebody’s bubble without being helpful

by Anne R. Allen

I often advise new writers to look for a critique group to help them learn the writing ropes and get free feedback as well as the support they need when starting on a writing journey. But critique groups vary widely and some can be dangerous to a writer’s mental health.

I’ve written about how Critique Groups Can Help AND Hinder Your Writing Growth , the types of Critique Groups that Drive you Batty , and Dangerous Critiques.

But now I think it’s time for a checklist for providing a useful critique. It’s a delicate business, and not everybody can critique effectively. If you don’t read much outside your genre, or you never read fiction, you need to learn to open your mind or find a group that’s genre-specific.

No matter your genre, a good critique requires empathy. Learn to empathize with your fellow writers. If they are newbies, critique accordingly. Remember you were a beginner once. Pick one or two areas to work on. Nobody can take in a huge amount of information all at once, and 100% negativity shuts down a person’s ability to listen. It feels like an attack, even to a seasoned writer.

These tips are variations on the traditional “Milford” method of workshopping writing, first used at the Milford Writing Conference in 1956.

Notes for the Critiqued:

  • Tell your group the genre and audience you’re writing for, and let them know where you want readers to focus: pacing, clarity, dialogue, grammar, repetitions, authenticity, etc.
  • Don’t expect 100% praise.
  • Stay silent during an oral critique, except to give a quick answer to a direct question. Once the critiques are finished, you can elaborate.
  • Don’t argue or explain “what you really meant.” One of the major things a critique can do is tell writers how much of what’s in our heads did or didn’t make it onto the page.
  • Give trigger warnings : If you’re going to read a scene of rape, abuse, torture, or extreme violence, let the critique group know beforehand. Some members may prefer to give it a pass and not read or listen to that piece.

Do’s and Don’ts for Critiquing

1. do keep in mind the purpose of the critique.

Remember everybody was a beginner once, and everybody makes mistakes. It’s your job to help them remedy those mistakes, not send them home in tears.

A manuscript critique is not the same as a book review:

  • A review is for readers — to help them decide whether a book is for them.
  • A critique is for writers — to help them improve the piece they are working on.

Whether you’re exchanging critiques online or in person, reading out loud, or sending around digital copies, as a critiquer, you have ONE job: help writers improve their work.

This is not a time to talk politics, religion, or hold forth on your distain for people who order pineapple on their pizza.

No matter how much you hate Chick Lit, don’t condemn a Chick Lit piece because it’s not angsty prose about middle-aged academics with prostate issues. Your job is to help make it the best Chick Lit it can be.

Avoid culture wars. We live in an era when the simple act of writing is going to offend somebody somewhere, so work on being helpful, not offended.

A critique is also not the place to show off. The writer being critiqued doesn’t care that you’ve read all the works of Proust in the original French, or that you once took a writing workshop with somebody who went to high school with Stephen King.

2. Don’t Judge or Condemn

Don’t critique as if you’ve recently arrived from Mt. Olympus on a fault-finding mission.

Unless you’re actually the Pope, nobody believes you’re infallible, so don’t talk as if you are. Say you don’t like something, not that it is “bad.”

Use “I” statements: It’s better to say “I wasn’t interested in your character,” rather than “your character is shallow and stupid.” Say, “I found this part boring” not, “your story is boring.”

It also helps if you make some suggestions for making it more engaging rather than simply condemning the piece.

And don’t assume the author is a mentally deficient space alien recently arrived from a galaxy far, far away. If you catch a typo, just say, “there’s a typo here where you wrote ‘cqt’.” That’s much better than, “you don’t know how to spell the word ‘cat’.”

3. Do Use the “Sandwich Method”

The human brain can’t take unrelenting criticism. 100% negativity comes across as an attack, and the only thing gained is the writer’s anger and distrust.

Start with something positive and conclude with another. Even if a beginner has presented 5 pages of embarrassing classic writing mistakes , use your imagination to come up with something positive to say. You’re a creative person, remember?

When I was first learning the ropes as a stage director, a veteran director told me that no matter how dismal an actor’s performance is, you should never give notes that are 100% critical.

Sometimes you have to say, “You remembered your blocking! You didn’t fall down!” before you tell him that playing Hamlet with a hillbilly accent is not working.

Make sure you remember the nice comment at the end too. “You looked good up there!” always worked, and kept the costumers happy.

4. Don’t Make ad hominem Criticisms

Critique the writing, not the writer. And remember the characters are not always stand-ins for the author.

Avoid calling the author a Satan-worshipper because he writes about vampires. And if you’re critiquing a steamy romance, it’s not helpful to call the author a slut. (Or a harlot, trollop, doxy, chippie or floozy. 🙂 )

Ditto the characters. If the author intends for the reader to see the character has a dangerously chaotic sex life, you don’t need to call the character derogatory names. 

That kind of statement is about you and your prejudices, and unhelpful for the author.

5. Do Listen to and/or Read the Other Critiques

If your critiques are done in person, don’t take a snooze during the other members’ critiques. It’s painful to hear the same criticism from two or more critiquers. Plus it wastes everybody’s time.

Maybe Sadie says, “I think it’s ridiculous when the vampire breaks into song in the middle of the battle with the werewolves. Everybody knows vampires can’t sing.”

So the next critiquer might say, “I agree with Sadie. I got taken out of the story when the vampire started singing I’m a Little Teapot when the werewolves were attacking his friend.”

But if you’ve been snoozing during Sadie’s critique, it’s annoying if you say, “Nobody else has mentioned it, but it’s ridiculous that the vampire starts singing about teapots in the middle of the battle.”

6. Don’t Mistake Critiquing for Group Therapy

Therapy stuff is most likely to surface with a memoir. People may feel the need to tell the author that he was being co-dependent with his second wife, or his current squeeze sounds like she’s got Borderline personality disorder. Resist it.

This is true with fiction too. You may not approve of the choices or lifestyles of an author’s characters, but your job is to judge the writing, not the characters. Say “I’d like more reasons to care about this character.” Or, “I find it hard to be sympathetic to his problems when he keeps turning into a werewolf and eating his girlfriends.”

And remember your # 1 goal here is to be helpful, not to blabber your unfiltered thoughts. Your honest opinion might be that the author is ugly and his mother dresses him funny, but keep it to yourself.

7. Do Know Your Own Blind Spots

Some neurodivergent people genuinely don’t get irony, sarcasm, or subtext. Satire is not fun for them. The strongly empathetic don’t find violence entertaining or enlightening. And many people have a powerful dislike of certain genres.

If you’re one of those people, give critiquing that kind of work a polite pass. You simply aren’t the right audience. 

Also, people who are recently clean and sober often see addiction everywhere. If that’s you (congrats!), think twice before pronouncing every character a hopeless alcoholic or addict, and realize you’re seeing things through different eyes than the average reader.

8. Don’t Enforce Stupid Writing Rules

One of the biggest problems with critiquers and beta readers is the belief that there are hard and fast rules that every writer must follow. Of course there are rules of grammar and spelling that are necessary for your work to be read by others.

But dogmatic enforcement about silly rules like “You should never use the word ‘was’,” or “Contractions are forbidden on the written page,” or “Your characters must never utter a cliché” is unhelpful and, well, stupid.

Here’s my post about Stupid Writing Rules and The Writing Police .  And last month’s post on Clichés, Tropes, and Archetypes .

9. Do Give Attention to Detail.

Attention to detail makes a good critique. Any author is going to be deaf and blind to certain things and a good critique will point them out.

So watch for repetitions, grammar problems, imprecise word choices and continuity issues.

A good critique can help the author avoid embarrassing mistakes like having four Saturdays in a row, or your hero’s eyes changing color half way through the love scene.

10. Don’t Try to Rewrite the Work

When a passage is unclear, suggesting a substitute word or phrase can be extremely helpful. Rewriting whole paragraphs is not. Resist the urge to rewrite the author’s work.

Then go home and use that creativity on your own WIP.

As in all things, the Golden Rule needs to be in force here. If you would be furious if somebody said that stuff about you or your work, don’t say it about others’. 

What about you, scriveners? Do you think your critiquing chops are up to snuff? Have you ever had a critique that felt like a personal attack? How do you react to an unhelpful critique?

BLOG NEWS: 

We have some sad news here at the blog. Our beloved webmaster, Barb Drozdowich, is having to step down while she fights a serious health issue. Do check out her publishing and marketing books at Bakerview Consulting . The sales and support will mean a lot to her. We’ve spotlighted one of her wonderfully helpful books below.

Tech guru Nate Hoffelder , a frequent guest here, has played superhero and jumped in to take over as webmaster and move the blog to a new host. There may be some glitches along the way. The blog may not go up on its regular schedule and MailChimp notices may not arrive. So please do check in regularly, even if you don’t get a notice. Our loyal readers mean so much to us, and we want to keep you informed.

Ruth and I give a massive “Thank You” to both Barb and Nate. You are the tech angels who have kept this blog alive. 

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About Anne R. Allen

Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market.

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery RomCom Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."

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November 13, 2022 at 10:03 am

Anne—Thanks for a most excellent post loaded with wit, charm and very very good advice!

Bottom line: Mind your manners and watch your language….don’t say such-and-such is stupid. Instead: Such-and-such doesn’t work for me. Such-and-such isn’t quite there yet. And get specific! No global, generic disses. Please!

How do I know this? Years as a writer (on the receiving end) and as an editor (on the giving end) clued me in. 🙂

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November 13, 2022 at 1:34 pm

Ruth–Exactly! Your years of experience in the publishing business showed you how to communicate with new writers and help them get better, rather than squelching their dreams.

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November 13, 2022 at 10:09 am

Huzzah! The more good critiques there are in the world, the better. Thanks, Anne, for highlighting quality critiquing.

November 13, 2022 at 1:35 pm

CS–True! We need more good critiques!

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November 13, 2022 at 11:06 am

You covered everything well! Yes, resist the urge to rewrite it for the writer. And the part about not being offended is spot on.

November 13, 2022 at 1:37 pm

Alex–Some people will be offended that I mentioned being offended. 🙂 but it’s a pet peeve of mine. Fiction should be above manufactured culture wars.

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November 13, 2022 at 11:25 am

Good post, Anne! After 30 years of teaching writing, with readabout in every class, the best line I found to help writers understand criticism is one you promote here: “I got taken out of the story when…” This is such an honest and gentle thing to say and addresses exactly what we’re all about – we want to hook readers into the story and keep them reading. We don’t want them to leave!

November 13, 2022 at 1:40 pm

Melodie–It’s a useful phrase I’m sure came in handy during all your years of teaching new writers. I guess my Camilla would say it comes down to good manners. 🙂

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November 13, 2022 at 12:21 pm

I co-ran an in-person critique group almost a decade ago. It was run a lot like the way you describe how such groups should be run. Looking back on it now, I see how fortunate I was to have been part of it. I took critiques kinda hard at first, though. Took me awhile to appreciate them.

November 13, 2022 at 1:42 pm

Rich–A good critique group can make all the difference in a writer’s career. And way cheaper than writing classes. But those first lessons can be painful, whether from a teacher or a critique. I remember it well.

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November 13, 2022 at 1:05 pm

Anne, what great guidelines for positive, helpful critique.

For more than three decades, I’ve been fortunate to take part in some amazing groups. Each has its own personality and quirks but every writer sees tremendous improvement in their work.

When you put someone else’s story under a microscope to find effective fixes for them, you recognize your own problems.

Not everyone sees the same thing so you wind up with the collective wisdom of six or seven brains.

Critique groups aren’t for every writer. Some are downright toxic–if you stumble into one of those, run fast and far away. But if members genuinely want to help each other, everyone wins.

November 13, 2022 at 1:48 pm

Debbie–It’s true that we often learn more from other people’s mistakes than we do from our own. It’s one of the benefits of critiquing. But you need to shop for the right group. As you say, many can be toxic. I wrote this post about the ones you should run away from, very fast. https://annerallen.com/2019/09/critique-groups-can-drive-you-bonkers/

November 13, 2022 at 1:07 pm

P.S. Wishing Barb strength and healing. She’s been a rock. Thanks also to Nate for stepping up.

November 13, 2022 at 1:54 pm

Debbie–Barb has been so good to us. Now she needs our positive thoughts and support. She’s going through a tough time. Nate has been wonderful!

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November 13, 2022 at 4:43 pm

Thank you for this checklist, Anne. There is so much of this post to like–especially the reminder to remain sensitive to the neurodivergent. It’s so helpful when I share with critique partners who know about dyslexia and don’t think my poor spelling has anything to do with my intellect or lack of care. One of my favourite critique partners always used the sandwich method. In the beginning it was difficult for me to share my writing. I always feared that I would be judged harshly and sent packing. However, her critiques always made me feel supported and encouraged.

November 13, 2022 at 5:22 pm

Leanne–A good critique should make you feel encouraged. Generally we know where our writing needs work, but we’re not sure what the exact problem is. When someone can point that out to us, we know we can make it better. Overcoming dyslexia is hard. Congrats on being a writer in spite of it.

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November 13, 2022 at 5:31 pm

Got Barb’s book – picked up a good use for the X-ray feature on ebooks at Amazon: being able to put a bit of information on a character – in case the reader has forgotten because they read the first book in my mainstream trilogy YEARS ago.

I don’t do character reminders in the next book; since I use multiple third person deep pov, a character would have to have a reason for thinking or talking about another character (“As you know, Bob”) for that little bit of description to be dropped into the current book – or another character would have to have a reason for asking – and that wouldn’t work for me.

But at least one reader has asked, and taking the time to do a classic ‘Cast of Characters’ page, even for the books’ site, still wouldn’t make it available at the point of reading in the ebook, this may be a good solution.

I thought X-rays were for dictionary terms!

Thanks, Barb.

November 17, 2022 at 12:53 pm

Alice–As a reader, I appreciated those “cast of characters” pages in big books in the past. I think it would be a great idea to revive the practice. Thanks for supporting Barb by buying her book!!

November 14, 2022 at 6:34 am

Thank you for your encouragement and support, Anne.

For many years, I believed that I had to overcome dyslexia. But now I realize that it’s due to my amazing dyslexic brain that I can draw from a seemingly bottomless pool of ideas and that solving plot problems is fun. Now I realize that I don’t write in spite, I write because of dyslexia. After all, it’s part of who I am.

All the best, Leanne

November 17, 2022 at 11:55 am

Leanne–“Overcoming” was obviously the wrong word choice. I apologize. I do get it that we can use our differences to our advantage.

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November 14, 2022 at 10:07 am

Brilliant. This is so needed by those who write and those who review.

November 17, 2022 at 11:56 am

Mark–Many thanks!

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November 21, 2022 at 6:52 pm

I joined a critique group three years ago with established guidelines. One idea that works fabulously is the writer must wait for everyone to share their comments about the chapter before he/she responds. This method prevents writers from immediately getting defensive or trying to justify or arguing for their choices. I agree with at least 90% of their comments and suggestions. When all critiques are finished, we open it up for open discussion and the writer can join in.

It’s crucial to develop trust in the group and to not take it personally if someone else offers suggestions. They’re merely trying to help by making recommendations. It’s the writer’s job to look at their remarks with an open mind.

November 21, 2022 at 7:24 pm

Pete–Yes! I covered all this in the first part of the post– To recap: “These tips are variations on the traditional “Milford” method of workshopping writing, first used at the Milford Writing Conference in 1956. Notes for the Critiqued: *Tell your group the genre and audience you’re writing for, and let them know where you want readers to focus: pacing, clarity, dialogue, grammar, repetitions, authenticity, etc. *Don’t expect 100% praise. *Stay silent during an oral critique, except to give a quick answer to a direct question. Once the critiques are finished, you can elaborate. *Don’t argue or explain “what you really meant.” One of the major things a critique can do is tell writers how much of what’s in our heads did or didn’t make it onto the page.” The point of this post was also to give some pointers on how to critique effectively, because some people take the silence of the critiqued as a license to bully.

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The Classroom | Empowering Students in Their College Journey

How to Write a Good Critique Essay

How to Write a Close Reading Essay

How to Write a Close Reading Essay

The word "criticize," has by definition and perception largely negative connotations attached. Students may dread having their creative writing critiqued in a group setting. However, a fair assessment of any text, object, place or experience deeply analyzes all component parts and then renders judgment. When writing a critique essay, your readers need to understand how and why you arrived at your conclusion. A thorough and analytic critique provides them with an understanding of the critic’s values.

Describe Author and Work

Describe the work and its creator in the first paragraph. Do not assume that readers know the work or author prior to reading the critique. It is necessary to place the work in context so the reader has a sense of what is happening. Determine if the text is a first outing for the author or the latest in a long series. Does the author have a reputation or expertise in a certain field? Is the work controversial or well-known or little-known, and why? What is the intended audience for this work? By answering these questions, the reader has a stronger base of information to add clarity to the rest of the critique.

Write an accurate summary of the work’s main ideas in the second paragraph. Do not mingle your own evaluation with this summary. Instead, use the summary to explain the most important ideas the author tried to convey in the entire work and any other literary details that might guide or enlighten your reader.

In this section, critique the author’s presentation. Ask yourself a series of questions as you write the critique. Did the author present accurate and relevant data in a logical manner? Did the author clearly define important terms or jargon? Did the author offer sound interpretations? Focus in this paragraph, on whether the author achieved his or her purpose for creating the piece of writing.

State Your Opinion

Here, you will state both your own agreements and disagreements with the author. Develop your ideas by explaining why you agree and disagree with the author’s ideas. To further support your critique, cite other critics who support your interpretation.

In the last paragraphs, compose the conclusion that restates the main agreements and objections to the work. This conclusion is often the shortest paragraph in the critique but may also be the most important as it sums up the entire critique. In the closing, do not mention any new idea that does not already appear in the body paragraphs. The final paragraph is included to give an overview of the entire essay by restating its main ideas.

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  • Goshen College: Essay Critique Guidelines
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  • Writing Forward: How to Critique Other Writers' Works
  • College Essay Tips: How To Write A Critique Essay for College
  • Document in instructor-recommended citation style all quotes, paraphrases and summaries.
  • Write a detailed summary of the text before writing the critique.

Patricia Hunt first found her voice as a fiction and nonfiction writer in 1974. An English teacher for over 27 years, Hunt's works have appeared in "The Alaska Quarterly Review," "The New Southern Literary Messenger" and "San Jose Studies." She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from American University and a doctorate in studies of America from the University of Maryland.

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work essay critique

Essay Critique Guidelines

work essay critique

Whenever you read an essay, use the following questions to guide your response.

First, keep in mind that, although you may not be a writing expert, you are THE reader of this essay and your response is a valid one . I have found that almost every reader, regardless of experience, can identify the primary strength and weakness in an essay, although their method of describing those issues may be different. The author will welcome your response and your ability to explain your reaction in a new way. Although the author is not required to, and really shouldn’t, respond to everything you say, he or she will take your comments seriously and consider how the essays has enlightened or confused you. Therefore, comment freely, although respectfully. Keep in mind that it is better to begin by noting the strengths of the essay before pointing out the areas that need improvement. I would always include a personal response to questions like the following: What about the essay most connects with your experience? Moves you? Provokes you? Entertains you?

So that is how to respond. So how do you critique? For every essay, regardless of the mode, consider the broad categories of content, organization, style, and correctness.

  • Content : Consider the topic (its appropriateness and interest for the assignment as well as a clear focus suitable to essay length) and the way the topic is developed (clarity sufficiency of its argument, its scope, subcategories, amount and type of examples, anecdotes, evidence, etc.).
  • Organization : Consider how the essay is introduced and concluded (especially looking for a “frame” to the essay, where the intro and conclusion refer to the same idea), whether the thesis is located in the most helpful place (direct or implied), how the essay is structured, whether the order or extent of development is successful, as well as how individual paragraphs are organized (clear topic sentences, appropriate and concrete evidence, logical organization of evidence).
  • Style : Style can refer to the overall style of an essay: whether the tone is appropriate (humorous, serious, reflective, satirical, etc.), whether you use sufficient and appropriate variety (factual, analytical, evaluative, reflective), whether you use sufficient creativity. Style can also refer to the style of individual sentences: whether you use a variety of sentences styles and lengths, whether sentences are worded clearly, and whether word choice is interesting and appropriate.
Rolling around in the bottom of the drawer, Tim found the missing earring. [certainly the earring was rolling, not Tim!]

You could also easily tell that the following sentence actually contains two sentences that need punctuation between them:

The new manager instituted several new procedures some were impractical. [You need to add punctuation (period) after “procedures” and capitalize “some.”]

Further Directions for Specific Assignments

Below are more detailed questions to consider when responding to individual types of essays. First, make sure that you have reviewed the description of the essay mode in the Essay Assignment Guidelines. Use at least one or two of these when responding to an essay. Do not simply answer yes or no; offer specific evidence from the text and elaborate on the reasons behind your answer.

Personal Essay Critique:

  • Does the writer have a clear but understated purpose to the essay?
  • Does it avoid being overly moralistic or heavy-handed?
  • Does the essay contain suspense or tension that is resolved in some way?
  • Do you have any suggestions for organizing the essay, such as focusing in on one event rather than many, providing more background, turning explanation into action, etc.?
  • Does the essay make good use of concrete description, anecdote, and dialogue?
  • Does the essay help you to feel the emotions rather than just describe the emotions of the author?
  • Does the essay reveal a significant aspect of the writer’s personality?
  • Does the writer seem authentic?
  • Is this a passionate piece? Is it creative?

Critical Review Critique

  • Does a direct thesis convey both the subject and the reviewer’s value judgment?
  • Does the review provide a summary or description to help you experience the film, music, event, etc.? Note places where the author provides too much or too little detail.
  • Does the essay clearly identify relevant criteria for evaluation? Are they appropriate, believable, and consistent?
  • Are any important features of the reviewed subject omitted?
  • Logos (logic, content) : Does the essay provide sufficient, relevant, and interesting details and examples to adequately inform and entertain?
  • Ethos (author) : Does the author’s judgment seem sound and convincing?
  • Pathos (emotional appeals) : Does the author responsibly and effectively utilize emotional appeals to the audience?
  • Does the author include adequate reference to the opposition and respond to that opposition appropriately?

Information Essay Critique : The questions posed about an informative essay will vary, depending on the purpose and strategy of the essay. The SMGW suggests evaluating for the following issues:

  • Is topic clearly explained and sufficiently focused?
  • Does the content fit the audience?
  • Is it organized effectively?
  • Are definitions clear?
  • Are other strategies (classification, comparison/contrast, analysis) used effectively?
  • Are sources used sufficiently, effectively, and appropriately?

You might also assess the following criteria:

  • Does the author utilize vivid detail, interesting examples, and lively language?
  • Does the essay avoid emphasizing judgment over explanation?
  • Does the essay have a clear focus or implied thesis?

Comparison/Contrast Essay Critique

  • Is the purpose for a comparison or contrast evident and convincing?
  • Does the essay identify significant and parallel characteristics for comparison?
  • Does the author adequately explain, analyze, or reflect on the comparison or contrast?
  • Does the author provide appropriate transitions words to indicate comparison and contrast?
  • Is the treatment of each side of the comparison or contrast in balance?
  • Does the essay provide sufficient, relevant, and interesting details?

Feature Article Critique

  • Does this article interest you? Do you think it will interest the intended audience? Can you suggest ways to increase interest?
  • Can you tell what the “angle” or implied thesis is? Does the author avoid editorial judgment on the subject while still keeping the purpose clear?
  • Has the writer done sufficient research? What questions have gone unasked or unanswered? Whose point of view or what information would add further to the completeness of the feature?
  • Is the subject presented vividly with sensory images, graphic detail, and figurative language? Do you have suggestions of details or images to include?
  • Does the writer use an appropriate mixture of anecdote, quotation, description, and explanation? Would more or less of one of these improve the essay?
  • Are the beginning and ending paragraphs interesting and appropriate for the specific audience? Consider the need for a “lead sentence” if intended for a newspaper.

Documented Argument Critique

  • Is the thesis clear, argumentative, and effective? Why or why not?
  • Are the topic and thesis are reasonable for the assignment, audience, and context of the essay?
  • Does the author define his or her terms and provide sufficient background information? What ideas or terms are undefined or inadequately explained?
  • Is the thesis supported by clear reasons? Are the reasons clearly worded and supported sufficiently?
  • Do the reasons fit logically together and are they placed in the right order?
  • Does the author adequately address the opposition? What is another opposing argument he/she should or could have addressed?
  • Has the author done adequate research?
  • Are the works cited adequately introduced and explained before citing from them?
  • Does the paper contain an appropriate blend of well-placed quotations within a context of the author’s own words and paraphrases from other sources?
  • Is the writer clearly in charge, naturally introducing and interacting with sources rather than merely reporting on them?
  • Do you find the argument convincing? What might you add or omit?

Business Writing Critique

  • Does the memo begin with the most important information?
  • Does the memo build rapport by involving the reader in opening paragraph?
  • Does the memo provide sufficient, relevant, and interesting details? Is it focused and brief?
  • Does the memo focus each paragraph on one idea?
  • Is the memo informed, accurate, demonstrating the author’s grasp of the situation?
  • Is the final paragraph calling for a specific action? Is it brief? Does it build good will?
  • Is the memo form correct, with concise subject line, initialed name, correct spacing?
  • Is the information arranged (indentations and numbering) in a way that makes it easy to skim and still get central information?

Cover letter

  • Does the first paragraph identify who the author is, briefly state why he/she is writing, and refer to how he/she found out about the job?
  • Does the second paragraph highlight specific strengths, special abilities, or features of the résumé to be noted?
  • Does the third paragraph make a specific request of the reader or address what action is to be taken?
  • Does the letter provide sufficient, relevant, and interesting details to make the request convincing?
  • Is the letter brief and focused? What elements could be eliminated?
  • Does the writer achieve his or her purpose? Does it make you want to consider the résumé more carefully?
  • Is the tone of the letter courteous without being too formal, relaxed without being too familiar?
  • Is the letter’s form appropriate (heading, spacing, greeting, salutation)? Is the letter addressed to a specific person rather than a general “Dear Madam/Sir”?
  • Does the résumé contain the necessary features for the position (name/address, position desired, education, work experience, achievements, relevant personal information, references)?
  • Does the résumé contain only essential, relevant information for the position required?
  • Does the résumé emphasize the applicant’s strengths?
  • Does the résumé emphasize what is unique about this person’s experience? Does it demonstrate a common interest or ability (leadership, teaching experience, dedication, creativity, etc.)?
  • What additional information might you like to have about this applicant?
  • If you were leading an interview based on this résumé, what are two questions you might ask?
  • Does the résumé look neat (appropriate spacing, clear headings, good quality paper)?
  • Is the résumé easy to read?
  • Is the information presented as concisely as possible?
  • Are the elements of each section of the résumé presented in a parallel format and style (begin w/ active verbs, put date in consistent place, use of parallelism for elements, consistent underlining or italics)?
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How to Make Better Friends at Work

Friendships in the workplace can enrich our lives and make us better leaders and workers if we make the effort to cultivate truly healthy relationships.

  • Workplace, Teams, & Culture

work essay critique

Anna Godeassi/theispot.com

I don’t remember the moment that Francesco and I started referring to our friendship as a place. But in the grind of medical school rotations nearly 30 years ago, a flower bed between a parking lot and the building that hosted the internal medicine wards became “the friendship.” That’s what our friendship felt like then: A scruffy patch of nature wedged between the workplace and the comings and goings of daily life. “Come to the friendship!” one of us would say when the other was agitated or idle. We would walk out, sit there for a while, and then get back to work a little sharper, braver, and, some would say, more obnoxious for it.

Research has long established that friendship blossoms where people with similar interests spend time together, share meaningful and intense tasks, face uncertainty, and need each other’s help. 1 Francesco’s and my workplace ticked all those boxes, and soon our friendship wasn’t confined to it. In the friendship, we jumped between reviewing a procedure we had just seen and dissecting failed romances, sharing career dreams and making plans for the weekend. It was the first of a handful of work friendships without which I would not be writing this essay, do the work I do, or be who I am. It was also the beginning of a quest to understand friendship at work and what it takes to make those friendships work.

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The workplace can be fertile ground for budding friendships because of the proximity that forming friendships requires. But growing friendships at work can be problematic. The philosopher George Santayana wrote that friends are the people “with which one can be human” — that is, a complex and conflicted person, not just the competent occupant of a role. By definition, friendship challenges the norms of instrumentality and impersonality in force at many workplaces. For that same reason, if nurtured properly, friendship can be a potent humanizing influence for ourselves and our colleagues.

It’s no wonder that as work becomes more technological and workplaces more remote, there has been renewed interest in friendship. Hybrid work might make us more productive, but it also risks making us less connected. 2 It deprives us of the serendipitous encounters and idle time with coworkers that could turn into life-changing friendships. Most exhortations to return to the office focus on its sociality. 3 They cast it as a place to forge deeper bonds than we can create on Slack or Zoom. Those bonds, scholars have argued, foster the resilience and creativity that we need to thrive in a turbulent world of work. 4

People’s experiences, however, are more mixed. 5 Not everyone trusts that befriending coworkers is wise. Some worry that friendship will interfere with professional judgment. Others prefer to keep their personal and work lives distinct. Likewise, research highlights both benefits and drawbacks of work friendships. It shows that they can help us feel safer, braver, and freer at work — but they can also make us feel conflicted, cautious, and constrained. (See “Understanding the Three Elements of Friendship at Work.”)

Gaining those benefits and avoiding those burdens depends on our capacity to forge healthy friendships. To do that, it helps to view work friendships as a welcome patch of nature, as my old friend and I once did. But the best ones grow beyond an unkempt secret garden that we take refuge in. They become carefully cultivated grounds that sustain our selves at work.

What Friends Are (For)

Francesco and I are still friends, even though our careers no longer intersect. Once we took different paths for our specializations, I found it harder to enjoy work. I missed the comfort, the camaraderie, and even the competition. I also found it easier to begin a transition from medicine to management academia. These days, he helps people survive physical illness; I, the intangible malaise of the workplace. Friendship, it turns out, will protect you against both.

Having friends keeps you healthier. In a densely referenced 2023 advisory about an “epidemic of loneliness and isolation,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy estimated that its health consequences cost American companies $154 billion annually. Friendship lowers the risk of fatal diseases and prolongs life expectancy. In all species that form similar bonds — humans are not the only ones — friendship confers advantage. Individuals who have friends are more likely to live longer and reproduce.

If you have friends at work, “you are going to be less likely to want to leave; you are going to want to show up. You will probably accomplish more,” Julianna Pillemer, a New York University professor who studies work friendships, told me. Close relationships are crucial to well-being and success, she noted, and yet she has found that “people have polarized views. They really want to make friends at work or they say, ‘I don’t go there.’”

The reason, Pillemer explained, is that “going there” requires crossing a line or, more precisely, erasing the line between personal and professional. Concerns for mutual gain, goal achievement, and return on investment must be put aside, and so must power differences. At best, friendship is voluntary and reciprocal without being transactional.

Work connects you to what you do. Friends connect you to who you are.

The healthiest work friendships can be critical ballast for leaders, keeping them grounded when their position threatens to isolate them, and flattery or ego to blind them. “My friends are a stabilizer,” tech entrepreneur Fred Mazzella told me, explaining how friends helped him through his journey from anonymous start-upper to successful tech leader to highly visible entrepreneurship advocate. The cofounder of BlaBlaCar, a mobility platform and one of only 25 “unicorns” founded in France, recalled the days in which he was building the company. “I was in the media as much as I could because I needed our platform to be known. And at some point, I realized that I had created two things: I had created a company and an image of myself, or at least an image of what I do.”

Mazzella had seen many entrepreneurs lose themselves in that reflection. “Since they work a lot — all the time, really — and maybe have a young family, they don’t have time to see their friends anymore. And they begin to think they are who the media say they are,” he explained. If he wanted to preserve his authenticity, Mazzella realized, he needed friends. “Work connects you to what you do. Friends connect you to who you are,” he remarked.

Friends help us stay true to our roots — our history, values, and idiosyncrasies — as we reach for professional goals. It was friends, after all, that Aristotle first described as holding up a mirror to ourselves. And they provide an anchor for those selves too. In my research on mobile managers and independent workers, I found that those who had friends felt better equipped to navigate the anxieties of nomadic careers and solitary work. 6 Others have observed that friendships can provide a foundation of solidarity to resist indignity at work.

In short, good friends give us confidence, comfort, and courage. They shape our working lives and career dreams as much as, if not more than, our managers do. They help us show up as we are and imagine who we can become. 7 Those benefits, however, come at a price.

Friends Without Benefits

“Work friendships are wonderful, and they are hard work,” Pillemer told me. Her research with Wharton professor Nancy Rothbard has shown that the demands of friendship regularly conflict with the demands of our work roles. 8

Neglect a friend, and you might lose them. But attending to a friend might not always be the best way to use your time and energy at work. Furthermore, friendships can silence us. Many involve what scholars call “navigating to commonality” — smoothing differences and avoiding disagreement. That tendency can deprive us of feedback we need to hear, erode the quality of group decisions, and bring our fairness into question.

Spending time with our friends to the exclusion of others, or depending solely on them for support, can isolate us. Cliques are almost always detrimental and can be particularly counterproductive when we need a nudge in a new direction. Research shows that new ideas and career opportunities are most likely to come from weak ties — relationships outside our closest circles. Similarly, the cocoon of friendship might protect us too much. In unreliable institutions, people often turn to friends as a buffer against factors that harm their well-being and performance. In that way, friends can make us more tolerant of workplace cultures that we should try to change or leave, such as cultures of overwork. With friends around, our life at work becomes more comfortable. And comfortable people, at times, make poor change agents.

Precisely because it blurs the boundary between the personal and the professional, friendship can breed confusion, caution, and conformity. If those make friendship hard for corporate coworkers, some argue that they make it fatal for entrepreneurs. One study found that companies started by friends were more likely to fail because their cofounders were too cautious to exchange critical feedback and too comfortable to seek help outside.

“Mentors advised me to never start a business with a friend,” Mazzella told me. That warning did not suit him. A Stanford computer science graduate and aspiring founder, Mazzella decided to leave Silicon Valley and return to Paris, where he and his best friend started the company that would become BlaBlaCar. But soon, the friends faced an impasse. Their unequal commitment to the startup was fostering resentment and ineffective leadership. Eventually, Mazzella took the lead and a larger share of the company, but their friendship endured.

Their story reminded me of Pillemer and Rothbard’s observation that not all friendships hold people back, harm organizations, or fray under the pressure of work. Only fragile ones do. Some friendships do begin and end at work, but others grow beyond it. The best work friendships eventually lose the qualification and become just … friendships.

The admonition should not be to avoid forming friendships at work but to make stronger ones. The question is how to turn a friendly coworker into a good work friend. To begin, it helps to recognize friendship as an organic process that we can assist but can’t force.

How to Cultivate Friendship

Friendship is a natural product of our species’ fundamental need and desire to belong. And friendship is an accomplishment, too: a product of our choices and efforts. Both aspects of friendship remind me of the olive trees of my ancestral countryside that grow in sunstruck soil, take years to bear fruit, and, when mature, provide shade and joy to children who climb them. You can’t build one of those. But you can cultivate one, if you care.

What follows is a blueprint for how to care for and grow work friendships over three stages. Use it to reflect on your own friendships, if you wish, and then go and discuss it with your friends. The sooner and more frequently you do it, the better. Until you can be honest about how your relationship affects your work and vice versa, your friendship will remain fragile and might cause conflict, demand caution, and isolate you. Discussing how to nourish it, make space for it, and share it, conversely, will make your friendship stronger.

Helping the seed of friendship sprout. Sometimes we find the seedling of a friendship at work, like when we notice a coworker who seems to share our outlook on life. Other times, we plant it there — say, when we hire a friend. Some budding friends are peers at work, whereas others are not. In any case, you must prepare the soil.

The composition of fertile ground for friendship is shared activities, common interests, and comparable challenges. It’s not enough to do something together, like working on the same project or for the same client, if you do not share similar views on, and similar struggles in, that work. Furthermore, friendship grows best on egalitarian ground, hence a degree of equality needs to be established alongside commonality.

Those were the circumstances under which Christina Anagnostopoulou, an executive in the pharma industry, found a close friend in the workplace. “We met working on the same team. We were peers,” she told me. “My friend is an expert, detail-oriented, serious, and focused. I am a generalist, easygoing, always doing 10 things at once. We were executives in a formal, competitive, complex environment. We both loved work and felt a need for lightness, for laughter. We shared, without judgment, the pain and failures that were never discussed in the office.”

High-pressure work environments might incline us to seek friends as well. “Ours can be a dreary industry,” a banker told me, “but having friends around when you are pulling all-nighters, dealing with a difficult boss, or working on something you have no idea about makes it much easier and more fun.”

In her book on the evolution and functions of friendship, Lydia Denworth describes how gifts are a hallmark of friendship across many cultures. 9 When we approach a potential friend in the workplace, we might offer a croissant, a word of advice, or some gossip. These gifts represent the nutrients that the seeds of friendship need to grow: attention, candor, and, most importantly, time. The more uptight and pressured your workplace is, the more likely it is that you will see as a potential friend someone who treats you as an equal, gives you their time and attention, and seems to want nothing other than yours in return. Lack of time, conversely, makes friendships wither.

A budding work friendship also needs protective boundaries that acknowledge its intersection with work as well as its differentiation from it. You need to speak up when you need space, are disappointed, or have critical feedback. You need to be clear about when and how to put the friendship or the work aside deliberately.

A senior manager at a global consumer goods company learned that when he hired his best friend. After a difficult six months, they realized that they had to cultivate new relational boundaries. “I insisted on trying different ways to have a transparent discussion and exchange feedback about work and our relationship, and the more we opened up, the more the barrier disappeared,” the manager told me. The two also agreed not to speak about work when they met outside of it, and they stuck to that deal.

Openness makes it easier to set boundaries, and boundaries make it easier to be open, minimizing conflict if not preventing it entirely, which allows your friendship to set roots and unfurl its first leaves.

Making space for friendship to grow. Once your friendship has sprouted, it needs enough space and support to grow, flower, and bear fruit. Time matters at this stage, too — not just as a signal of interest but as an expression of commitment.

Few friendships survive asymmetry in how much time each person expects to spend with the other. One study showed that remote coworkers develop friendships only if their contact is frequent enough to let them feel connected beyond the requirements of work. The virtual contact, however, must be synchronous. A phone conversation is better than a text, unless we are texting back and forth at the same time. We need friends to be there with us, even online.

Entrepreneur Mazzella took time to stay connected with friends despite years of 80-hour workweeks. “I would often call a friend, inviting them to dinner around 9 p.m., when I took a break,” he told me. “If they were available, we would connect over a meal. If not, at least it was an occasion to discuss for a few minutes on the phone.” Those dinners and conversations were a physical expression of the friends’ commitment to each other.

Temporal and physical space — spending time somewhere you enjoy, such as on a hiking trail — makes friendship viable. Psychological space makes it stronger. Making that space involves committing to getting to know each other well and helping each other grow. Like a stake that supports a young tree, those commitments are friends’ stakes in mutual development.

Sadaf Hosseini, a senior manager at an international organization, told me that her work friends are “truer friends than those I have found in other contexts,” and she pointed to their honest feedback as one of the ways in which good friends help each other grow. “They have the capability of calling me on my bulls**t. That’s hard to find, as friends usually close their eyes on your weaknesses and sometimes even lie, just not to hurt you,” she said. This observation captures a crucial difference between fragile and stronger friendships: The former just reassure you; the latter challenge you, too. They keep you focused on your dreams and accountable for doing your best.

We build stronger work friendships by helping each other see how a personal issue might get in the way of work or how work can stifle who we are, and helping each other do something about it. The trunk of friendship has become strong enough when it lets us stay grounded and reach out freely. This is the point at which a friendship begins to bear fruit that nourishes two selves.

Letting others share its shade and fruits. Large trees are often visible features of a landscape, and so are strong friendships in the workplace. Once your friendship has grown deep roots and used the space to flourish, you will need to attend to its impact at work and avoid exclusivity and cliquishness. At this stage, you must ensure that your friendship is hospitable and does not become a hideout that stops you from engaging others.

I have witnessed hospitable friendships frequently among independent workers. Those professionals often rely on friends in their line of work for emotional and practical support. And yet they are mindful that they need to help each other tap into the weak ties that can help improve their work or find new work: the writer friends who set up a group to critique each other’s work, inviting peers from outside their circle; the consultants who asked one or two colleagues they did not know well to join them on a project; or the trainers who brought their respective clients together for a retreat to share best practices. They were all doing the same thing: opening up the protection and resources of their work friendship to others who might bring them new insight, a sense of community, and value.

Opening your friendship up is even more important in an organization, where the temptation might be the opposite — to seclude the friendship and keep it aside. “Sometimes you want to show that you are not offering preferential treatment to your friends, so you end up treating them worse than a stranger,” a corporate lawyer told me. That strategy, however, often backfires, creating suspicions that something inappropriate is afoot, even when it is not.

To counter the concerns about favoritism or cliquishness that friendship can create in work groups, it is not enough to be discreet. You must find ways to share the fruits of your friendship with the group. The same lawyer told me that discussing how to stay close yet professional with her friend made her question the need for so much distance with other coworkers. “Most of the time at work, we treat each other like robots. We fail to see the individual behind an email or a phone call,” she said. Her friendship made her resolve to treat everyone with the same care.

Friends who have done the work I’m describing here can become role models of openness. Declan, one of my closest work friends, is a master at this. I love to have him on my side on delicate projects and in mundane meetings. He is fierce and funny. He will have my back, and he won’t let me hide. He will be sensitive to my concerns and challenging with my shortcomings, and I with his. And we will be all that in public: letting everyone else know that care and honesty are what we expect and cherish in our line of work, and that they can join in.

Seen as a source of vitality to generously share, friendship becomes more than a way to survive a demanding workplace. It is a way to reject and challenge its norms of distance and instrumentality and begin humanizing it, making it more inclusive and engaging.

Don’t Fear Making Friends

We are all better off for having access to the grounded freedom that friendship provides. That we so often fear it or try to hide it at work says more about workplace norms than it says about our friends. People in circumstances in which work is personal and close relationships are vital often remind me that not having friends at work is potentially disastrous.

Organizations desperately need to bring humanity back into their cultures. Friendship is a way to do that.

Strong friendships are developmental for those involved and for those around them. They help everyone grow more than they could have alone. They make us feel that someone cares for our self and for our learning — rather than just for our skills and performance. Being dedicated to cultivating them will help you realize the true value of friendship: making us more secure, free, and generous.

Seen that way, friendship is not the antithesis of work relations but its expansion. It provides a template for the kinds of relationships that make a workplace a community. Reflecting on a career in professional services, an executive told me: “I have done my best work, my most creative work, my most impactful work with friends. Organizations desperately need to bring humanity back into their cultures. Friendship is a way to do that.”

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Fragile work friendships will fade once a hard project ends or a friend leaves the company. Strong friendships born in the workplace often outlast those transitions. We take them with us because they become, as philosophers have argued and neuroscientists have shown, a part of us. And they keep us human and growing at work and beyond.

My friend Francesco and I have done a decent job at that. We have shared the moments that friends are meant to be there for — breakups and weddings, funerals and births, rejections and promotions. We have kept each other’s secrets and our conversation running. “Did you bring the friendship?” one of us will ask every time we meet. “It’s there!” The other will answer, pointing to a flowerpot. (There must be dirt.) More confined yet just as green, the friendship is still there — to witness who we once were, who we have chosen to be, and who we might still become. 

About the Author

Gianpiero Petriglieri is an associate professor of organizational behavior and the academic director of the Initiative for Learning Innovation and Teaching Excellence at Insead.

1. T.M. Newcomb, “The Acquaintance Process” (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1961).

2. C.N. Hadley and M. Mortensen, “ Are Your Team Members Lonely? ” MIT Sloan Management Review 62, no. 2 (winter 2021): 36-40.

3. G. Petriglieri, “ In Praise of the Office ,” Harvard Business Review, July 15, 2020, https://hbr.org.

4. G.R. Kellerman and M. Seligman, “Tomorrowmind: Thriving at Work With Resilience, Creativity, and Connection — Now and in an Uncertain Future” (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2023).

5. L. Gratton, “ Why You Should Make Friends at Work ,” MIT Sloan Management Review, Oct. 13, 2022, https://sloanreview.mit.edu.

6. G. Petriglieri, J.L. Petriglieri, and J.D. Wood, “ Fast Tracks and Inner Journeys: Crafting Portable Selves for Contemporary Careers ,” Administrative Science Quarterly 63, no. 3 (September 2018): 479-525.

7. M.G. Franco, “Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make — and Keep — Friends” (New York: Penguin Random House, 2022).

8. J. Pillemer and N.P. Rothbard, “ Friends Without Benefits: Understanding the Dark Sides of Workplace Friendship ,” Academy of Management Review 43, no. 4. (October 2018): 635-660.

9. L. Denworth, “Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond” (New York: W.W. Norton, 2020).

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How to get away with AI-generated essays

Prof Paul Kleiman on putting ChatGPT to the test on his work. Plus letters from Michael Bulley and Dr Paul Flewers

No wonder Robert Topinka found himself in a quandary ( The software says my student cheated using AI. They say they’re innocent. Who do I believe?, 13 February ). To test ChatGPT’s abilities and weaknesses, I asked it to write a short essay on a particular topic that I specialised in. Before looking at what it produced, I wrote my own 100% original short essay on the same topic. I then submitted both pieces to ChatGPT and asked it to identify whether they were written by AI or a human. It immediately identified the first piece as AI-generated. But then it also said that my essay “was probably generated by AI”.

I concluded that if you write well, in logical, appropriate and grammatically correct English, then the chances are that it will be deemed to be AI-generated. To avoid detection, write badly. Prof Paul Kleiman Truro, Cornwall

Robert Topinka gets into a twist about whether his student’s essay was genuine or produced by AI. The obvious solution is for such work not to contribute to the final degree qualification. Then there would be no point in cheating.

Let there be real chat between teachers and students rather than ChatGPT , and let the degree be decided only by exams, with surprise questions, done in an exam room with pen and paper, and not a computer in sight. Michael Bulley Chalon-sur-Saône, France

Dr Robert Topinka overlooks a crucial factor with respect to student cheating – so long as a degree is a requirement to obtain a reasonable job, then chicanery is inevitable. When I left school at 16 in the early 1970s, an administrative job could be had with a few O-levels; when I finished my PhD two decades ago and was looking for that sort of job, each one required A-levels, and often a degree. I was a mature student, studying for my own edification, and so cheating was self-defeating. Cheating will stop being a major problem only when students attend university primarily to learn for the sake of learning and not as a means of gaining employment. Dr Paul Flewers London

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When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form .

How to use Copilot Pro to write, edit, and analyze your Word documents

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Microsoft's Copilot Pro AI offers a few benefits for $20 per month. But the most helpful one is the AI-powered integration with the different Microsoft 365 apps. For those of you who use Microsoft Word, for instance, Copilot Pro can help you write and revise your text, provide summaries of your documents, and answer questions about any document.

First, you'll need a subscription to either Microsoft 365 Personal or Family . Priced at $70 per year, the Personal edition is geared for one individual signed into as many as five devices. At $100 per year, the Family edition is aimed at up to six people on as many as five devices. The core apps in the suite include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote.

Also: Microsoft Copilot vs. Copilot Pro: Is the subscription fee worth it?

Second, you'll need the subscription to Copilot Pro if you don't already have one. To sign up, head to the Copilot Pro website . Click the Get Copilot Pro button. Confirm the subscription and the payment. The next time you use Copilot on the website, in Windows, or with the mobile apps, the Pro version will be in effect.

How to use Copilot Pro in Word

1. open word.

Launch Microsoft Word and open a blank document. Let's say you need help writing a particular type of document and want Copilot to create a draft. 

Also: Microsoft Copilot Pro vs. OpenAI's ChatGPT Plus: Which is worth your $20 a month?

A small "Draft with Copilot" window appears on the screen. If you don't see it, click the tiny "Draft with Copilot icon in the left margin."

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2. Submit your request

At the text field in the window, type a description of the text you need and click the "Generate" button.

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Submit your request.

3. Review the response and your options

Copilot generates and displays its response. After reading the response, you're presented with a few different options.

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Review the response and your options.

4. Keep, regenerate, or remove the draft

If you like the draft, click "Keep it." The draft is then inserted into your document where you can work with it. If you don't like the draft, click the "Regenerate" button, and a new draft is created. 

Also: What is Copilot (formerly Bing Chat)? Here's everything you need to know

If you'd prefer to throw out the entire draft and start from scratch, click the trash can icon.

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Keep, regenerate, or remove the draft.

5. Alter the draft

Alternatively, you can try to modify the draft by typing a specific request in the text field, such as "Make it more formal," "Make it shorter," or "Make it more casual."

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Alter the draft.

6. Review the different versions

If you opt to regenerate the draft, you can switch between the different versions by clicking the left or right arrow next to the number. You can then choose to keep the draft you prefer.

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7. Revise existing text

Copilot will also help you fine-tune existing text. Select the text you want to revise. Click the Copilot icon in the left margin and select "Rewrite with Copilot."

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Revise existing text.

8. Review the different versions

Copilot creates a few different versions of the text. Click the arrow keys to view each version.

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Review the different versions.

9. Replace or Insert

If you find one you like, click "Replace" to replace the text you selected. 

Also: ChatGPT vs. Microsoft Copilot vs. Gemini: Which is the best AI chatbot?

Click "Insert below" to insert the new draft below the existing words so you can compare the two.

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Replace or Insert.

10. Adjust the tone

Click "Regenerate" to ask Copilot to try again. Click the "Adjust Tone" button and select a different tone to generate another draft.

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Adjust the tone.

11. Turn text into a table

Sometimes you have text that would look and work better as a table. Copilot can help. Select the text you wish to turn into a table. Click the Copilot icon and select "Visualize as a Table."

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Turn text into a table.

12. Respond to the table

In response, click "Keep it" to retain the table. Click "Regenerate" to try again. Click the trash can icon to delete it. Otherwise, type a request in the text field, such as "remove the second row" or "make the last column wider."

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Respond to the table.

13. Summarize a document

Copilot Pro can provide a summary of a document with its key points. To try this, open the document you want to summarize and then click the Copilot icon on the Ribbon. 

Also: The best AI chatbots

The right sidebar displays several prompts you can use to start your question. Click the one for "Summarize this doc."

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Summarize a document.

14. Review the summary

View the generated summary in the sidebar. If you like it as is, click the "Copy" button to copy the summary and paste it elsewhere.

 width=

Review the summary.

15. Revise the summary

Otherwise, choose one of the suggested questions or ask your own question to revise the summary. For example, you could tell Copilot to make the summary longer, shorter, more formal, or less formal. 

Also: The best AI image generators

You could also ask it to expand on one of the points in the summary or provide more details on a certain point. A specific response is then generated based on your request.

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Revise the summary.

16. Ask questions about a document

Next, you can ask specific questions about any of the content in a document. Again, click the Copilot icon to display the sidebar. In the prompt area, type and submit your question. Copilot displays the response in the sidebar. You can then ask follow-up questions as needed.

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Ask questions about a document.

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Guest Essay

It’s Not Just Wages. Retailers Are Mistreating Workers in a More Insidious Way.

A photograph of an employees-only space in a store.

By Adelle Waldman

Ms. Waldman’s forthcoming novel, “Help Wanted,” takes place in a big-box store.

Back in 2018, with an eye to writing a novel about low-wage work in America, I got a job at a big-box store near the Catskills in New York, where I live. I was on the team that unloaded the truck of new merchandise each day at 4 a.m.

We were supposed to empty the truck in under an hour. Given how little we made — I was paid $12.25 an hour, which I was told was the standard starting pay — I was surprised how much my co-workers cared about making the unload time. They took a kind of bitter pride in their efficiency, and it rubbed off on me. I dreaded making a mistake that would slow us down as we worked together to get 1,500 to 2,500 boxes off the truck and sorted onto pallets each morning. When the last box rolled out of the truck, we would spread out in groups of two or three for the rest of our four-hour shift and shelve the items from the boxes we just unloaded.

Most of my co-workers had been at the store for years, but almost all of them were, like me, part time. This meant that the store had no obligation to give us a stable number of hours or to adhere to a weekly minimum. Some weeks we’d be scheduled for as little as a single four-hour shift; other weeks we’d be asked to do overnights and work as many as 39 hours (never 40, presumably because the company didn’t want to come anywhere close to having to pay overtime).

The unpredictability of the hours made life difficult for my co-workers — as much as if not more than the low pay did. On receiving a paycheck for a good week’s work, when they’d worked 39 hours, should they use the money to pay down debt? Or should they hold on to it in case the following week they were scheduled for only four hours and didn’t have enough for food?

Many of my co-workers didn’t have cars; with such unstable pay, they couldn’t secure auto loans. Nor could they count on holding on to the health insurance that part-time workers could receive if they met a minimum threshold of hours per week. While I was at the store, one co-worker lost his health insurance because he didn’t meet the threshold — but not because the store didn’t have the work. Even as his requests for more hours were denied, the store continued to hire additional part-time and seasonal workers.

Most frustrating of all, my co-workers struggled to supplement their income elsewhere, because the unstable hours made it hard to work a second job. If we wanted more hours, we were advised to increase our availability. Problem is, it’s difficult to work a second job when you’re trying to keep yourself as free as possible for your first job.

No wonder my co-workers cared so much about the unload time: For those 60 minutes, they could set aside such worries and focus on a single goal, one that may have been arbitrary but was largely within our shared control and made life feel, briefly, like a game that was winnable.

Many people choose to work part time for better work-life balance or to attend school or to care for children or other family members. But many don’t. In recent years, part-time work has become the default at many large chain employers, an involuntary status imposed on large numbers of their lowest-level employees. As of December, almost four and a half million American workers reported working part time but said they would prefer full-time jobs.

When I started working at the store, I assumed that the reason part-time work was less desirable than full-time work was that by definition, it meant less money and fewer or no benefits. What I didn’t understand was that part-time work today also has a particular predatory logic, shifting economic risk from employers to employees. And because part-time work has become ubiquitous in certain predominantly low-wage sectors of the economy, many workers are unable to find full-time alternatives. They end up trapped in jobs that don’t pay enough to live on and aren’t predictable enough to plan a life around.

There are several reasons employers have come to prefer part-time workers. For one thing, they’re cheaper: By employing two or more employees to work shorter hours, an employer can avoid paying for the benefits it would owe if it assigned all the hours to a single employee.

But another, newer advantage for employers is flexibility. Technology now enables businesses to track customer flow to the minute and schedule just enough employees to handle the anticipated workload. Because part-time workers aren’t guaranteed a minimum number of hours, employers can cut their hours if they don’t anticipate having enough business to keep them busy. If business picks up unexpectedly, employers have a large reserve of part-time workers desperate for more hours who can be called in on short notice.

Part-time work can also be a means of control. Because employers have total discretion over hours, they can use reduced schedules to punish employees who complain or seem likely to unionize — even though workers can’t legally be fired for union-related activity — while more pliant workers are rewarded with better schedules.

In 2005 a revealing memo written by M. Susan Chambers, then Walmart’s executive vice president for benefits, who was working with the consulting firm McKinsey, was obtained by The New York Times. In it she articulated plans to hire more part-time workers as a way of cutting costs. At the time, only around 20 percent of Walmart’s employees were part time. The following year, The Times reported that Walmart executives had told Wall Street analysts that they had a specific target: to double the company’s share of part-time workers, to 40 percent. Walmart denied that it had set such a goal, but in the years since, it has exceeded that mark .

It’s not just Walmart. Target, TJX Companies, Kohl’s and Starbucks all describe their median employee, based primarily on salary and role, as a part-time worker. Many jobs that were once decent — they didn’t make workers rich, but they were adequate — have quietly morphed into something unsustainable.

One of the most surprising aspects of this movement toward part-time work is how few white-collar people, including economists and policy analysts, have seemed to notice or appreciate it. So entrenched is the assumption that full-time work is on offer for most people who want it that even some Bureau of Labor Statistics data calculate annual earnings in various sectors by taking the hourly wage reported by participating employers and multiplying it by 2,080, the number of hours you’d work if you worked 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. Never mind that in the real world few workers in certain sectors are given the option of working full time.

The shift to part-time workers means that focusing exclusively on hourly pay can be misleading. Walmart, for example, paid frontline hourly employees an average of $17.50 as of last month and recently announced plans to raise that to more than $18 an hour. Given that just a few years ago, progressives were animated by the Fight for $15 movement, these numbers can seem encouraging. The Bloomberg columnist Conor Sen wrote on social media last year that “Walmart’s probably a better employer at this point than most child care providers and a lot of the jobs in higher ed.”

The problem is that most Walmart employees don’t make $36,400, the annualized equivalent of $17.50 an hour at 40 hours a week. Last year, the median Walmart worker made 25 percent less than that, $27,326 — equivalent to an average of 30 hours a week. And that’s the median; many Walmart workers worked less than that.

Likewise, at Target, where pay starts at $15 an hour, the median employee makes not $31,200, the annualized full-time equivalent, but $25,993. The median employee of TJX (owner of such stores as TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods) makes $13,884 a year; the median Kohl’s employee makes $12,819.

Those numbers, though low, are nevertheless higher than median pay at Starbucks, a company known for its generous benefits. To be eligible for those benefits, however, an employee must work at least 20 hours a week. At $15 an hour — the rate Starbucks said it was raising barista pay to in 2022 — 20 hours a week would amount to $15,600 a year. But in 2022 the median Starbucks worker made $12,254 a year, which is lower than the federal poverty level for a single person.

And this is after the post-Covid labor shortage, when pay for low-wage workers rose faster than it did for people in higher income brackets.

Since my stint at the big-box store, where I ended up working for six months, I’ve come to think that every time we talk about hourly wages without talking about hours, we’re giving employers a pass for the subtler and more insidious way they’re mistreating their employees.

From the perspective of employers, flexible scheduling remains extremely efficient. But that efficiency means reneging on the bargain on which modern capitalism long rested. Since the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act during the New Deal era, employers have had to pay most of their workers for 40 hours of work even when business was slow. That was just the cost of doing business, a risk capitalists bore in exchange for the upside potential of profit. Now, however, employers foist that risk onto their lowest-paid workers: Part-time employees, not shareholders, have to pay the price when sale volumes fluctuate.

To the extent that the shift to part-time work has been noticed by the larger world, it has often undermined rather than increased sympathy for workers. For decades, middle- and upper-class Americans have been encouraged to believe that American workers are hopelessly unskilled or lazy. (Remember when Elon Musk praised Chinese workers and said American workers try to “avoid going to work at all”?) The rise in part-time work seems on its face to support this belief, as white-collar workers, unfamiliar with the realities of the low-wage work environment, assume that workers are part time by choice.

It’s a bit rich. Policies undertaken to increase corporate profits at the expense of workers’ well-being are then held up as evidence of the workers’ poor character. There is poor character at play here. It’s just not that of workers.

Adelle Waldman ( @adellewaldman ) is the author of two novels, “The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.” and the forthcoming “Help Wanted.”

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

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What I got wrong about loyalty at work

Turns out Gen Zers aren't the only ones who are fed up with their employers

In January, I published a story on how loyalty died in the American workplace. The response to the story was huge: I received more emails and LinkedIn messages about it than I had for any other piece I've written in my 14 years as a journalist. And what struck me most were the readers who wanted to tell me that I got something wrong.

In the story, I wrote that people seem to divide into two groups when it comes to the decline of workplace loyalty . "On one side," I asserted, "are the bosses and tenured employees, the boomers and Gen Xers. Kids these days, they gripe . Do they have no loyalty? On the other side are the younger rank-and-file employees, the millennials and Gen Zers, who feel equally aggrieved. Why should I be loyal to my company when my company isn't loyal to me? "

To my surprise, a lot of older readers took issue with getting lumped into the pro-loyalty camp. "Loyal GenX – Are You Kidding?" read the subject line of one email from a Gen Xer. Someone else wrote, more gently, "While I feel you're spot on with most of your facts you've got gen x all wrong." They added: "My generation leads in workplace dissatisfaction and realized 2 decades ago that there was no more corporate loyalty."

We're used to hearing 20-somethings complain about the state of corporate America today. But I didn't expect to receive such an outpouring of dismay and disillusionment from seasoned workplace veterans. I'd written the story for young people, as a defense of their decision to rebel against the notion that we owe our employers a debt of gratitude. Instead, I seem to have unintentionally tapped into the quiet frustration of more experienced employees. After all, it's the boomers and Gen Xers who actually remember a time when their companies treated them better. For them, the broken "psychological contract" I described in my story isn't some historical artifact. It's their lived experience. "You summarized everything I experienced in the last 38 years of my career," one reader wrote.

Readers told me they have watched employers renege on the social contract in a variety of ways. One boomer, a retired banking executive, acknowledged that he himself was lucky to have spent more than 30 years with a single company that treated him well. But starting in the 1980s, he watched as other businesses caved to the whims of Wall Street, cutting employee benefits to squeeze out every last penny for shareholders. Today, he wrote, "Corporate greed is paramount at the expense of everything else."

A slightly younger reader, who graduated from college in 1993, had a pension at his first job. Then, to the great outrage of his older colleagues, their employer scrapped the company retirement plan and converted it into a 401(k). The reader said it took years for the nature of the betrayal to become clear to him. Another noted that layoffs were already the norm by the time he entered the workforce, but that companies at least conducted them with a modicum of dignity. "Back in the 90s, an executive would be genuinely ashamed to lay off someone in a mass email," he wrote. "Managers had the decency to look you in the eye when they delivered the bad news." There isn't a generational divide over workplace loyalty, these readers were telling me. Employees of all ages are fed up with the way their companies treat them.

Why did the piece strike such a chord with older workers? I put this question to one of them. "It resonated," he replied, "because I still see company leadership telling us to give it our all and make sacrifices above and beyond to make the company prosperous — prosperity that we are very unlikely to share in." Contrary to what I wrote, he has watched with dismay as his younger colleagues fall for the company's line. "I see many people, particularly younger employees buying into it," he said. "Millennials badly need to become as cynical, demanding, and difficult as the press makes them out to be."

This is not, to put it mildly, the way I had framed it in my story. American workplaces, it appears, are full of Gen X and boomer Marxes. Millennials of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!

The comment reminded me of a conversation I had a few weeks ago with a software engineer I'll call Gabriel. Last year, he was devastated to be laid off from his very first job out of college. Only a few weeks earlier, executives had assured everyone in an all-hands meeting that, while times were tough, the company wasn't at the point where it needed to lay people off. Gabriel thought he deserved at least a warning that the cuts might be coming. He thought he deserved to know why they chose him, and not others on his team. He thought he'd be rewarded, as a high performer, with job security.

In his new job, he puts in eight hours of labor a day, five days a week — and not a minute more.

These didn't strike me as unreasonable expectations. But as we talked, Gabriel seemed almost ashamed for having held them. He blamed himself for ever expecting his employer to treat him fairly. "It was my fault for even feeling like I was owed anything," he told me. Now, in his new job, the only thing he feels entitled to is his agreed-upon salary — and in return, he puts in eight hours of labor a day, five days a week, and not a minute more. "I'm not going to ever go above and beyond," he says.

That's how Gabriel, and many other workers, have decided to even the scales in the modern workplace. But as I wrote in my original story, I don't think this is actually the world most of us want — a kind of hypertransactional relationship between employers and employees where no one owes anyone anything, where we all adopt what one of my readers called a "mercenary mindset." Even Gabriel, who has adopted the very cynicism that one of my older readers urged, says he misses the camaraderie he felt with his old team, back when he gave his job his all.

"It felt like we were all winning," he says. "I don't want the world to be like this. But now I know how this game works. So I'm going to play it to win it." He's come to the same conclusion as older, more experienced workers. They wish loyalty was still rewarded by their companies. But because they can no longer expect that, they've decided to adapt.

Perhaps the biggest lesson for me, based on all the emails I've received, is to stop pontificating on differences between the generations. But I can't help myself, so I'll hazard one more sweeping generalization: Maybe the biggest difference between older and younger workers today isn't how they feel about loyalty, as I originally posited. Maybe it's what they're doing about it.

The emails I got from boomer and Gen X and even millennial readers were tinged with a sense of resignation — a reluctant acceptance of the way the world is now. Gen Z, on the other hand, isn't quite resigned to that reality yet. From the office to TikTok, they're vocal about their displeasure with the state of work today. They believe that it doesn't have to be this way, and that they have the power to force their employers to change.

Some might call that naivete. Others might call it entitlement. But the older workers I heard from call it something else. They call it about damn time.

Aki Ito is a chief correspondent at Business Insider.

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Through our Discourse journalism, Business Insider seeks to explore and illuminate the day’s most fascinating issues and ideas. Our writers provide thought-provoking perspectives, informed by analysis, reporting, and expertise. Read more Discourse stories here .

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  1. How To Write a Critique (With Types and an Example)

    A critique is a response to a body of work, be it a performance, concept, argument, scholarly article, poem or book. If you write a critique, you can present your opinion of the work or provide an alternative opinion. Critiques typically include the following: Description of the work, including its purpose, the creator and the intention

  2. How to Write a Critique Paper: Tips + Critique Essay Examples

    A critique paper is an academic writing genre that summarizes and gives a critical evaluation of a concept or work. Or, to put it simply, it is no more than a summary and a critical analysis of a specific issue. This type of writing aims to evaluate the impact of the given work or concept in its field.

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    It involves conducting a systematic analysis of a scholarly article or book and then writing a fair and reasonable description of its strengths and weaknesses. Several scholarly journals have published guides for critiquing other people's work in their academic area.

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    If you are asked to write a critique of an article or an essay assigned by your professor, you analyze the reading, identify your personal reaction to it, and develop a clear, concise explanation of support for your reaction. Your knowledge of the discipline in which you are working is the basis on which you build the explanation.

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    1. Introduction 2. Summary 3. Critique 4. Conclusion View a Sample Sample Article Critique Still Confused? Please reach out to your instructor or email the Writing Center for assistance! Get Help

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    An essay critique is an analysis of a work in the context of its intent. It is more than simply a review, a set of likes and dislikes. It is designed to determine if a written work has fulfilled ...

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    ISBN: 9780415230131 Publication Date: 2000-11-07 Essays are the major form of assessment in higher education today, a fact which causes poor writers a great deal of anxiety. However, essay writing is simply a skill to be learned. Anyone can learn to express themselves coherently and effectively, and this book explains precisely how.

  8. 8.1 What Makes a Critique a Critique?

    A critique is a written work critically analyzing or evaluating another piece of writing; also known as a review or critical response. What Is a Critique? When you see the word critique, the first thing you may think of is to criticize.

  9. QUT cite|write

    To support the evaluation, provide evidence from the work itself, such as a quote or example, and you should also cite evidence from related sources. Explain how this evidence supports your evaluation of the work. Include all resources cited in your critique. Check with your lecturer/tutor for which referencing style to use.

  10. How to Write an Article Critique Psychology Paper

    Critique papers require students to conduct a critical analysis of another piece of writing, often a book, journal article, or essay. ... An article critique involves making a critical assessment of a single work. This is often an article, but it might also be a book or other written source. It summarizes the contents of the article and then ...

  11. How to Write a Critique in Five Paragraphs (with Pictures)

    1 Examine the prompt or assignment. Be sure you understand exactly what you are being asked to do. The assignment may use the word "critique," or it might use a phrase such as "critical assessment," "critical review," or "critical evaluation."

  12. How to Structure an Effective Critique Essay

    When you write a critical essay, you'll need to understand the work and present an evaluation. Critical essays can be either positive or negative, depending on what the work deserves. Main Elements of a Critique Essay. A good critique essay will reveal why a text is effective or ineffective. Three main elements make up a critique essay.

  13. How to Critique Other Writers' Work

    by Melissa Donovan | Oct 31, 2023 | Writing Tips | 75 comments How to critique other writers' work. As a writer, it helps to be thick-skinned. Once you put your work out there, people will judge, review, and criticize it. But critiques are more helpful when they are received long before publication.

  14. Writing a Critique

    Writing a Critique. To critique a piece of writing is to do the following: describe: give the reader a sense of the writer's overall purpose and intent. analyze: examine how the structure and language of the text convey its meaning. interpret: state the significance or importance of each part of the text. assess: make a judgment of the work ...

  15. Critique vs. Criticism: How to Write a Critique Correctly

    None of this is to say that you shouldn't commend a piece of work if it truly is fantastic or that you should not highlight the gems within a work. Again: constructive criticism is honest criticism. If a work is so well-crafted in your eyes that nothing worse than grammatical hiccups are present, tell the writer.

  16. Pfeiffer Library: Writing a Critique: What Is a Critique?

    Literary works Published works Drafts of works Policies, of any kind Works of art Events Anywhere that criticism can exist, a critique can follow to evaluate arguments, identify gaps, and/or make recommendations. Defining Critique A critique evaluates a resource.

  17. How to Write a Critique Paper: Comprehensive Guide + Example

    A critique paper is a piece of writing that provides an in-depth analysis of another work. These include books, poems, articles, songs, movies, works of art, or podcast episodes. Aside from these, a critique may also cover arguments, concepts, and artistic performances. For example, a student may evaluate a book they've read or the merit of ...

  18. Critique

    The 6 Flavors of Critique: Your Guide in School and the Workplace 🍦 1️⃣ Formative Feedback: The Coach 🏋️ 2️⃣ Summative Feedback: The Scoreboard ⚖️ 3️⃣ Rhetorical Feedback: The Strategy Guru 🎯 4️⃣ Global vs. Local Critique: Big Picture to Details 🌍🔍 5️⃣ Specialized Critiques: The Toolkit 🛠️ 6️⃣ Radical Transparency: The Truth Bomb 💣

  19. How to Write a Critique Including a Definition and Example

    A critique is a formal analysis and evaluation of your own or someone else's writing, artistic work, or performance. In composition, some people also refer to a critique as a response paper. You can refer to a critique as a peer review when another expert in the field writes it. Publishers conduct peer reviews to determine whether to accept ...

  20. How to Structure and Write an Effective Critique Paper

    The structure of a typical critique essay example includes an introduction, a summary, an analysis, and a conclusion. The paper format is a crucial element. Just like when you write your research papers, a critique benefits from a clear one to guide the reader. Therefore, work on defining the critique essay outline before starting the writing ...

  21. Critiquing 101: 10 Do's and Don'ts for Giving a Helpful Critique

    That's much better than, "you don't know how to spell the word 'cat'.". 3. Do Use the "Sandwich Method". The human brain can't take unrelenting criticism. 100% negativity comes across as an attack, and the only thing gained is the writer's anger and distrust. Start with something positive and conclude with another.

  22. How to Write a Good Critique Essay

    Describe the work and its creator in the first paragraph. Do not assume that readers know the work or author prior to reading the critique. It is necessary to place the work in context so the reader has a sense of what is happening. Determine if the text is a first outing for the author or the latest in a long series.

  23. Essay Critique Guidelines

    Further Directions for Specific Assignments. Personal Essay Critique: Show all 10 ... Study English at Goshen College. Whenever you read an essay, use the following questions to guide your response. First, keep in mind that, although you may not be a writing expert, you are THE reader of this essay and your response is a valid one.

  24. How to Make Better Friends at Work

    It was the first of a handful of work friendships without which I would not be writing this essay, do the work I do, or be who I am. It was also the beginning of a quest to understand friendship at work and what it takes to make those friendships work. ... the writer friends who set up a group to critique each other's work, inviting peers ...

  25. How to get away with AI-generated essays

    To test ChatGPT's abilities and weaknesses, I asked it to write a short essay on a particular topic that I specialised in. Before looking at what it produced, I wrote my own 100% original short ...

  26. How to use Copilot Pro to write, edit, and analyze your Word ...

    Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review: One of the best smartphones of the year Sonos Era 300 review: Close to a perfect smart speaker I tried Apple Vision Pro and it's far ahead of where I expected

  27. Employers with tailored work from home strategies will reap rewards

    A review of nearly 2,000 academic papers on the advantages and disadvantages of working from home has painted a mixed picture, leading researchers to conclude that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to designing effective home- and hybrid-working strategies. ... Preparing staff to work from home effectively and ensuring that line managers ...

  28. It's Not Just Wages. Retailers Are Mistreating Workers in a More

    Ms. Waldman's forthcoming novel, "Help Wanted," takes place in a big-box store. Back in 2018, with an eye to writing a novel about low-wage work in America, I got a job at a big-box store ...

  29. Boomers, Gen X Are Also Fed up With Their Employers

    What I got wrong about loyalty at work. Turns out Gen Zers aren't the only ones who are fed up with their employers. Kiersten Essenpreis for BI Aki Ito. 2024-02-12T10:27:01Z