How to Write a Critical Commentary
At college you might be asked to write a critical commentary or a critical analysis paper. A critical commentary is basically your chance to evaluate a referenced work by drawing in on aspects that you may agree with, and offering a critique for the points that you may feel have not been expressed correctly. For instance, you may be asked to identify bias, consider the context of the text and propose an alternative depiction of the issue. Making sure that you understand how to structure a critical commentary and then following the required set of guidelines, is part of the secret to getting a good grade in a paper. In this oneHOWTO article we explain how to write a critical commentary to get good grades and keep these skills for life.
You may be asked to write a critical commentary for a book, an article, a film, a report or any other scholarly referenced work. For that reason, it is important that you make sure that you are familiar with the work you have to critically analyze. Take some time to study it thoroughly.
Grab a blank piece of paper or open up a blank page in your processing document to start jotting down your first ideas. You may also write down on the margins of your text if you own the copy.
First, identify the author’s thesis, the arguments that support the thesis and the supporting examples for the claims. You are tearing apart the work into small sections so that during the writing process you find it easier to pull these arguments back in. Briefly, think about what you are in agreement with and what you deem worthy of rebuttal.
After the preparation process, there comes the writing process. The structure of your paper should follow this process:
- An introduction
- A summary
- An analysis
- A conclusion
For the introduction, you must make sure to include the title of the work you are analyzing with the author’s name and date of publication. You will also need to outline the author’s thesis and the main arguments of the text. Finally, include your own thesis and how you are going to structure the commentary.
The next section of your paper should include a much more detailed exploration of the main ideas of the text. It is important to select the main points that you are going to be analyzing further in the text and make a summary; but refrain from adding some critical commentary yet. You are giving the reader some context and background so that your arguments are well understood.
After the summary, comes the analysis section of a critical commentary. This is where you have to take a critical approach by expanding upon your own thesis. Some questions that you may want to ask yourself are:
- Does the author have a background in the topic? Is he or she an expert in the matter?
- Has the author provided reliable evidence?
- Is there bias in the text?
- Are there any arguments being omitted or barely explained?
Make sure to spend some time in this section and cite all additional sources that you have included and create a bibliography.
Finally, to round up your essay make sure to include a conclusion. Begin your conclusion by restating your thesis briefly, then highlight what you want your read to take away from your essay and mention any further analysis that you think will add to your thesis.
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