An academic paper is usually written to add to the general knowledge. Therefore, it is important in a critique to determine the validity and reliability of the piece of writing. How do you go about this?
What you need to do is to critically analyze the article and check if substantive evidence is provided to support claims made in the article and also the conclusions drawn from it.
So initially you will have to carefully read the article to determine a number of issues:
- It is important to find out the authority of the author: what are her/his credentials? Is he/she cited by other authors?
- Also, what theoretical model did she/he use? What is his/her research philosophy? Could the problem have been approached more successfully from another perspective? Were the research methods used appropriately to investigate the research question/ problem?
- What were the major claims and conclusions that the author suggested and what were these claims and conclusions based on: on facts, or on the belief and opinions of the author?
- You should make an effort to find in the article any theoretical or empirical evidence for the claims and conclusions.
- It is also important to check if the references used as evidence are valid and reliable: Are they a website or a blog post? A newspaper article? A book chapter? A refereed journal article?