How to Write a Critical Review of a Journal Article

How to Write a Critical Review of a Journal Article

Learning how to write a critical evaluation is something that can come to us naturally, as long as we know what steps to follow in the process. So, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write a critical review of a journal article. See what stages of writing you must complete creating a proper review. 

What Is a Critical Article?

A critical review of a journal article essay is an evaluation of an original academic piece of writing. Such a task requires careful reading of an article, followed by its analysis and further assessment. The evaluation of the piece must focus on the overall quality and academic value. Thus, it should cover the quality of writing, the originality of an idea behind it, along other assessments of its strengths and weaknesses. While learning how to write a critical review of an article, you also practice your analytical skills, logic, and your ability to research and pay attention to details. 

How to Critically Review an Article?

There are two main steps on how to critically evaluate a research article. First, you must get to know the piece you are about to assess. Secondly, you should start with the structuring and drafting your review. So, let’s see how to do it. 

Before reading

So, your getting-to-know starts not with reading, unlike the popular opinion, but with a few extra steps before you even start with the text. First, you need to check a few details. For instance, what is your opinion about the title? Does it reveal what you are about to read? What is the length and structure of the text? Does it look well-organized? Also, have a look at the reference list. See how many works are cited and what topics they cover. All of this can give you an idea about the piece you are about to read. 

Also, if you can, check out some info about the author. See what they usually write about and how often. What are their reviews like? This extra step may help you build the first impression. 


Obviously, you can’t review something that you have not read yet. So reading the chosen piece should be the next logical step in the whole process. However, it’s not enough just to read it. You have to approach this task as a scholar. Hence, your analytical and critical thinking skills play key factors in the success of your future paper. Most likely, you’ll need to read the piece a few times before you're ready to write a scientific journal article review. 

During your first read, you just form a general impression and maybe note a few points that you find valuable to discuss further. However, all following reading experiences must answer specific questions. Here are just a few examples of those questions:

  1. Who is the target audience of that piece?
  2. What is the purpose of the article?
  3. What are the central and supporting arguments?
  4. Is there enough evidence and data?
  5. Does the author explain every term and argument well?
  6. Is there any missing information?

You can’t write a critical analysis of a journal article without understanding the nature and purpose of one. Hence, you should answer all those questions, seek the flaws (in your opinion) and benefits of the given piece. Only when you have formed your opinion and explore the given text will you outline and draft your future work. 


Throughout your reading, you should have been making notes and writing down points you’d want to cover in your paper. Now, it’s time to analyze the discovered points, leaving only those that relate to your thesis statement. 

As always, all critical reviews of journal articles must have an introduction where you express your thesis statement, followed by the main body and conclusion. Your main body should present the arguments to support and explain your thesis statement. At last, in your conclusion, you should cover whether the author succeeded in meeting the purpose of the work and fulfilling all the expectations they built in the introduction. 

To Summarize

Any successful critical review of a scientific paper example will have three main sections with clear structure and organization. You must cover all the main points made by the author, assessing their quality and purpose. Also, you should carefully read the piece to find any interesting arguments (or lack of such) that you could add to your work. In the end, you should explain how well the author managed to realize their intentions in the given work.