Landing : Athabascau University

My strategy for writing a critical review

My strategy for writing a critical review

I just finished a two-week military course for staff officers, and it was very demanding that I did not get a chance to work on my MAIS 606 for the last two weeks. Now, I am trying to catch up working on weeks 3 to 5 so that I can draft this weekend my first critical review assignment in preparation for the writing workshop. My biggest challenge is sustaining my energy for the course work, as my full time job as Public Affairs Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces requires a lot of time for reading, analyzing and writing.

Although the two-week military staff officers’ course that I just completed is not connected to MAIS 606, there are skills in that military course, which are relevant and helpful for critical writing. The course involved daily situational report analyzing, synthesizing, and writing, which I believe are also essential elements for writing a critical review.

Swales and Feak (228) explains that critical review is an analytical method used to express our understanding of reading assignments in writing. It is more than just summarizing or recounting the reading assignment, but more importantly, we need to fully grasp what the author wants to convey so that we can process the information, understand the logic of the author’s arguments, and identify the potential knowledge gaps or fallacies.

The textbook Academic Writing for Graduate Students presents five main reasons why graduate students are assigned critical review assignments:

1. to confirm that the student has read the assignments;

2. to evaluate the student’s comprehension of what was read;

3. to set the conditions for developing the student’s critical thinking;

4. to develop the skills of integrating previous and current learning; and

5. to have a deeper understanding of their area of expertise. (Swales and Feak, 228)

With a clear understanding of the purpose and objectives of writing a critical review, we can have a methodical approach to prepare for our first written assignment. My approach to completing the assignment will be done in three phases:

Phase 1: Analytical reading and notes;

Phase 2: Outline development and drafting; and

Phase 3: Formatting, review, and quality control.

During reading phase, I will first got through the article to look for the thesis, supporting arguments, and conclusion. After figuring out the author’s communication objectives, I will then read the article thoroughly, taking notes, and highlighting the key points. Moreover, I will examine the development of arguments and identify if there are any fallacies or knowledge gaps in the article.

In terms of developing my outline, I will follow the example found in the University of New South Wales website. My introduction will cover the thesis of the article and will present its aim and key findings. I will then transition to explaining the content of the article before I proceed to articulating my judgment on the author’s arguments. Finally, my conclusion will summarize my findings and judgment and will offer recommendations. The key factor in my review will be the balanced approach to analyzing the text, i.e., to identify and present both the strengths and weaknesses of the article.

Works Cited

Swales, John M., and Christine B. Feak. Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Tasks and Skills. The University of Michigan Press, 2012.

UNSW Website. “Sample Extracts.” UNSW Current Students,


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