Skills to Develop
- Compose a concise summary of your article
Before You Begin Critiquing
As with any source you examine, you need to make sure you have a solid grasp on the ideas presented by the author. Before you start analyzing your source, it is helpful to compose a summary to confirm you understand what the source is all about and that you do not leave out any important points. Remember that if your audience does not have a strong understanding of the overall picture of the source, he or she may have difficulty following your critique.
Often what we share verbally when summarizing a source highlights the main points of our impression of the material; we capture all the necessary points, but we do so concisely. For Exercise 8.2, you will need to work with a partner to compose a succinct summary of your article.
Exercise 8.2/Discussion 2 (Do Part B Only)
Part A: Do individually
Scan your article’s abstract (if there is one), introduction, headings, topic sentences, and conclusion.
Read the article in its entirety. Briefly make note of any area you struggle with or have a reaction to. (This will help you later.)
Make notes on what you think the main ideas are.
Compose a short paragraph summarizing your article (75 to 100 words).
Part B:Collaboration: Please complete with a classmate.
Put your summary aside and do not refer to it for this next part.
Verbally summarize your article for your partner in 30 to 60 seconds.
Your partner will need to take very brief notes of the verbal summary you give.
Once you have both summarized verbally and taken notes for each other, show the summary paragraph you wrote in Part A to your partner.
Read the summary paragraph and compare it to the notes you took from the verbal summary.
Prepare feedback based on the following questions:
What were the differences between the verbal and written summaries?
Did the written summary contain anything unnecessary or miss anything important?
Which one was organized more logically?
Give both the notes and summary back to your partner, and read your own, asking for clarification if necessary.
Revise your summary, so you will have a composed paragraph you can insert into your critique later.
Come up with a working thesis for your paper. What was your overall impression? (You may change or add to this later when you learn more about what to look for when critiquing.)
Later, you will need to decide on one of two formulas to follow when composing your critique. If you choose to use Formula 1, you will need to include an independent summary paragraph, which you have now already completed and may only require a little fine tuning. If you choose Formula 2, you will not include the summary as its own paragraph, but you will need to break it apart when you introduce the points you are going to discuss within the critique.
The following sections will discuss the different critiquing forms and what you can look for when deciding what points you would like to discuss in your critique.