Writing a critique of a scholarly article

5 September, 2010 § 2 Comments

For the first assignment in my Artificial Intelligence course, we are to write a critique of Alan Turing’s “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”. Now I’m pretty sure I’ve written a critique before and I know that it is not a summary of the paper, but I think having the summer off from graduate school allowed for a relapse on the exact mechanics of a critique.

I took this as an opportunity to ask my friend Jim, who is currently studying for a Masters in Fine Arts from Chicago State University, for some tips on writing a critique. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone, so I’d like to share the tips and offer the opportunity to others for feedback on these tips.

Here are the tips:

  1. Pick a side of the argument that the author made (agree/disagree).
  2. Say what parts of the argument you agree/disagree with.
  3. Spend more time pointing out flaws vs. pointing out strengths.
  4. If the author has a point/counterpoint, double-check that the point/counterpoint are actually opposites of each other.
  5. If the writing is historical in nature, look for predictions that turned out wrong.
  6. What could the author have done better with their analysis.

I also found useful the document titled “How to do a Close Reading” by Patricia Kain of the Writing Center at Harvard University. Although writing a critique and a close reading are, in my understanding, two very different activities, there are useful tips given on how to analyze writings and approach them from different viewpoints.

Those are the tips I’ve got so far. Let me know what you think of them or if you have any to add by leaving a comment to this post.

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§ 2 Responses to Writing a critique of a scholarly article

  • A.J. Orians says:

    I never read Alan Turing’s article; but from a summary of the article I like how he proposed replacing the word: “think” with a test. I agree that regarding whether computers could think would mean different things to different people.

    • msujaws says:

      It sure does mean different things to different people. Anytime a goal can be considered SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) the better.

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