Some General Criteria for Evaluating Texts

The following list of criteria and focus questions may be useful for reading the text and for preparing the critical review. Remember to check your assignment instructions for more specific criteria and focus questions that should form the basis of your review. The length of the review / assignment will determine how many criteria you will address in your critique.

CriteriaPossible focus questions
Significance and contribution to the field
  • What is the author's aim?
  • To what extent has this aim been achieved?
  • What does this text add to the body of knowledge? (This could be in terms of theory, data and/or practical application)
  • What relationship does it bear to other works in the field?
  • What is missing/not stated?
  • Is this a problem?
Methodology or approach (this usually applies to more formal, research-based texts)
  • What approach was used for the research? (eg; quantitative or qualitative, analysis/review of theory or current practice, comparative, case study, personal reflection etc...)
  • How objective/biased is the approach?
  • Are the results valid and reliable?
  • What analytical framework is used to discuss the results?
Argument and use of evidence
  • Is there a clear problem, statement or hypothesis?
  • What claims are made?
  • Is the argument consistent?
  • What kinds of evidence does the text rely on?
  • How valid and reliable is the evidence?
  • How effective is the evidence in supporting the argument?
  • What conclusions are drawn?
  • Are these conclusions justified?
Writing style and text structure
  • Does the writing style suit the intended audience? (eg; expert/non-expert, academic/non-academic)
  • What is the organising principle of the text? Could it be better organised?

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