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CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF AN ARTICLE

POINT: What are the main points or arguments the author(s) make in the article? What are the key inferences and conclusions the
author(s) make?
EVIDENCE: What evidence or information is given to support the points, inferences, or arguments? Is the evidence a fact or
measurement about something that has actually occurred? Are data or measurements presented? If so, what are they?
RELIABILITY: What is the source of the information or evidence? Does the evidence have an identified source (for example a
specific person, organization, publication, web site, journal, or book)? Is the source a primary source (original author) or is it secondary
or further removed (textbook)? If authorities are cited, what credentials do they have? Do you think the source is credible? Why or
why not?
PERSUASIVENESS: Is the evidence consistent with the argument? Is the argument convincing? If yes, explain why. If not,
explain why not. Is there another way to interpret the evidence? If there is insufficient evidence for you to judge the argument, what
specific additional evidence would be needed for you to judge the validity of the claim?
WORLD VIEW: What general assumptions does the author have underlying their thinking? What are they taking for granted?
What World view does the author have? Is there another World view or point of view that the author should consider?
PROPAGANDA: What examples of propaganda words and techniques are used in the arguments?
YOUR TAKE: What do you agree and disagree with in the article?
.
Analysis of a Newspaper Article:
Analyzing a newspaper or magazine article requires specific skills which few students acquire without being deliberately taught and
practiced. The example/project suggested below may be adapted for any history or social studies curriculum (law, sociology, civics,
political science, economics).
Objective:
1. To teach students to identify the main idea of article, the reason for it being written.
2. To use a specific newspaper article to show students how to analyze and examine different viewpoints in news articles.
Questions for analyzing the article:
a. What event led to the writing of the article? b. What is the main idea of the article?
c. Select several facts/arguments (3 if possible) which support the main idea.
d. Does the author provide enough factual material to support his ideas (quotes witnesses, provides statistics, states his sources of
information? Was he an eyewitness to events; or was the information obtained through a news service?
e. Is the reportage, in your opinion, true, balanced or biased? Explain.
f. Are different viewpoints presented? Is this article an editorial (authors own ideas), is it informative, is it convincing, is it balanced?
g. What do you think of the article and its point of view? Explain.
Writing a journal article review
You may be asked to write a journal article review. Although this may be an unfamiliar exercise, it is not as complex a task as
writing an essay requiring a lot of library research, and not the same as a review inThe Canberra Times which is written for the
general reader.
Your journal article review is written for a reader (eg, your supervisor, lecturer, tutor or fellow student) who is knowledgeable in the
discipline and is interested not just in the coverage and content of the article being reviewed, but also in your critical assessment of
the ideas and argument that are being presented by the author.
Use the following questions to engage with the journal article and help you form your critical analysis:

Objectives: what does the article set out to do?


Theory: is there an explicit theoretical framework? If not, are there important theoretical assumptions?
Concepts: what are the central concepts? Are they clearly defined?
Argument: what is the central argument? Are there specific hypotheses?
Method: what methods are employed to test these?
Evidence: is evidence provided? How adequate is it?
Values: are value positions clear or are they implicit?
Literature: how does the work fit into the wider literature?
Contribution: how well does the work advance our knowledge of the subject?
Style: how clear is the author's language/style/expression?
Conclusion: a brief overall assessment.

Drafting and writing your review

The structure of your review should include:

an initial identification of the article (author, title of article, title of journal, year of publication, and other details that seem
important, eg, it is originally a French edition, etc), and an indication of the major aspects of the article you will be discussing.
a brief summary of the range, contents and argument of the article. Occasionally you may summarise section by section, but in
a short review (1,000-1,500 words) you usually pick up the main themes only. This section should not normally take up more
than a third of the total review.
a critical discussion of 2-3 key issues raised in the article. This section is the core of your review. You need to make clear the
author's own argument before you criticise and evaluate it. Also you must support your criticisms with evidence from the text or
from other writings. You may also want to indicate gaps in the author's treatment of a topic; but it is seldom useful to criticise a
writer for not doing something they never intended to do.
a final evaluation of the overall contribution that the article has made to your understanding of the topic (and maybe its
importance to the development of knowledge in this particular area or discipline, setting it in the context of other writings in the
field).

Concerning the Death Penalty by Joe Delgado


Introduction
In the article The Case Against the Death Penalty, which appears in Crime and Criminals: Opposing Viewpoints, Eric Freedman argues that
the death penalty not only does not deter violent crime but also works against reducing the crime rate. Freedman says, The death penalty not only is
useless in itself, but counterproductive . . . (140). This paper will analyze Freedmans article from the viewpoints of a middle-age working man, a poor
person, and a politician.
Summary
Freedman argues that the death penalty does not deter crime. In his article, he argues that states that use the death penalty have crime rates
nearly indistinguishable from those states that do not have the death penalty. He also adds that criminal cases in which the death penalty is sought are
much more expensive to investigate and try, thus denying much-needed funds to programs that have been proven to reduce crime.
A Middle-Age Working Man
A middle-age working man would probably agree with Freedmans point of view with relation to the financial aspect of capital punishment
because Freedman talks about how much more the death penalty costs than life imprisonment. He says, In Florida, each execution costs $3,200,000, six
times the expense of life imprisonment (141). The workingman would probably be amazed at how much the execution actually costs compared to how
much life imprisonment costs. The workingman would probably wonder why the death penalty is even sought when life imprisonment seems to
accomplish the same goal for much less money.
The working man would also probably agree with Freedman because the workingman would rather see his tax money spent on more productive
programs. Freedman says, The reality is that, in a time of fixed or declining budgets, those dollars are taken away from a range of programs that would
be beneficial (142). The workingman would add that with the government taking so much of his income in taxes, it could at least do something more
productive than killing people.
A working man would probably be upset at how much money is spent on just trying a person in a capital punishment case. Freedman says, Thus,
the taxpayers foot the bill for all the extra costs of capital pretrial and trial proceedings and then must pay either for incarcerating the prisoner for life or
the expenses of a retrial, which itself often leads to a life sentence (142). The workingman would be upset because not only is the government using his
money to try these criminals, but it is using more of his money to retry these criminals just because they didnt get the verdict they wanted in the first
place.
The working man might also be upset that more money has to be spent on extra expenses that would not be incurred if it was not a capital
punishment trial. Freedman says, Much more investigation usually is done in capital cases, particularly by the prosecution (141). The working man
might be upset that just because the prosecution wants to kill the defendant, he has to pay the extra cost so the prosecution can gain more evidence even
though it often leads to a life sentence instead of an execution.
A Poor Person
A poor person would agree with Freedman because of how discriminating the death penalty is. Such a person would look at Freedmans
article and agree that many poor people are discriminated against because they do not have the money to receive a high quality of defense. Freedman
says, Most capital defendants cannot afford an attorney, so the court must appoint counsel. Every major study of this issue . . . has found that the
quality of defense representation in capital murder trials generally is far lower than in felony cases (144). The poor person might see poor people as
being targeted for capital punishment simply because of the fact that they wont be able to defend themselves properly.
He might also be outraged at the fact that people to whom he can relate are not getting a proper defense because they cannot afford the
best. Freedman says, [T]here is an overwhelming record of poor people being subjected to convictions and death sentences that equally or more
culpablebut more affluentdefendants would not have suffered (144). Mark Costanzo, author of Just Revenge, agrees. He argues, If you
or someone you cared about was accused of murder, you would surely want a defense team as skillful and thorough as [a wealthy person] (73). A poor
person would add that if poor people had the money to defend themselves properly, fewer of them would receive the death penalty.
A poor person would see the death penalty as a way to rid the world of poor people because people might think they are different and dont deserve
to live. Freedman says, Jurors are more likely to sentence to death people who seem different from themselves than individuals who seem similar to
themselves (144). A poor person would probably view most people as having more money and better things than he and that because he doesnt have
the best things, he is different than everyone else. He might feel bad because it seems like the world is against him and wants to get rid of him.
He may also see the death penalty as trying to take away money from programs that would benefit him and people like him. Freedman
says, "Despite the large percentage of ordinary street crimes that are narcotics-related, the states lack the funding to permit drug treatment on
demand. The result is that people who are motivated to cure their own addictions are relegated to supporting themselves through crime, while the money
that could fund treatment programs is poured down the death penalty drain" (142). The poor person might be sad that he does not have access to
beneficial programs because people are putting so much money into the death. He may conclude from Freedmans statement specifically that if the
death penalty were abolished, there would be fewer drug-related crimes because states would have more money to fund treatment programs.
A Politician
A politician would probably disagree with Freedman because he would believe a price tag cannot be put on doing the things that are
right. He would probably see the statistics Freedman gave as irrelevant. Freedman says, In Florida, each execution costs $3,200,000, six times the
expense of life imprisonment (141). The politician would see these costs as very high but taken out of context. He would most likely look to the
statistics of how the death penalty has actually been a crime deterrent, as proven by Jay Johansen in his article Does Death Penalty Deter
Crime? Johansen says that the [h]omicide rate is a mirror image of the number of executions. Consistently as the number of executions goes down,
the homicide rate goes up, and when the number of executions goes up, the homicide rate goes down (138). He would see this as proof that capital
punishment is a deterrent, and it should remain legal as long as it continues to deter crime.
A politician might use Johansens statistics to prove that the death penalty should not be abolished. He might see that even though a capital
punishment case costs more, if the crime rate goes down than we have fewer criminals to take to trial. If we have fewer criminals to take to trial, we are

actually saving more money in the long run by keeping capital punishment legal. A politician might be angry that Freedman does not show the actual
statistics of the crime rate as executions were outlawed and then when executions were again legalized. He might see Freedman as trying to divert
peoples attention away from the actual statistics by showing how much one capital punishment case compared to one non-capital punishment case.
A politician might also disagree with Freedman because Freedman proposes to take a states right away. He would agree with Michael Levin
that a state should have the right to enforce its laws however it sees fit. Levin says, Well, the state must be able to enforce whatever it commands, or it
is a state in name only (83). Levin also states, Once the state is granted the right to administer lesser punishments, it cannot be denied the right to kill
(83). The politician would strongly agree that a law abolishing capital punishment would be a law that is limiting a states right to pass judgement.
Conclusion
This paper has shown how three different types of people might interpret Eric Freedmans article The Case Against the Death Penalty, which
appeared in Crime and Criminals: Opposing Viewpoints. Freedman argues that the death penalty does nothing to deter crime but uses valuable resources
that could help control crime. Freedman says, The death penalty is not just uselessit is positively harmful and diverts resources from genuine crime
control measures (145). Freedman argues his point very well and logically and makes it very easy for people to understand all of the harm capital
punishment can inflict. Whether capital punishment is ethical is still unclear, but what becomes more obvious is this, that the social class of a person
may directly influence his or her opinion about capital punishment.
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Writing critiques is about beginning to notice what topics are important in your field, what kinds of claims are being
made about these topics and how what you notice fits with what else you know in the field about the topic.
Critiques generally follow this structure, but variations do exist, so always ask your instructors about their
preference:
introduce the name of the article/book and name of author(s)
summarize the article/books main claim, goals, methods, and findings
show how the article/book supports its claims
indicate the main position or claim that your review will make in response to the article
develop your critique in relation to aspects of the article/book, offering thoughtful, well-supported proof for your
claim(s)
conclude by pointing to the scholarly value (worthy or limited) of the article, suggesting particular audiences who
might benefit from the work and proposing further directions that research might take in relation to the articles topic
Write an outline of your opinions. Review each item in the article summary to determine whether the author was accurate
and clear. Write down all instances of effective writing, new contributions to the field, as well as areas of the article that
need improvement. Create a list of strengths and weaknesses. The strength of the article may be that it presents a clear
summation of a particular issue. Its weakness may be that it does not offer any new information or solutions. Use specific
examples and references. For example, the article might have incorrectly reported the facts of a popular study. Jot down this
observation in your outline and look up the facts of the study to confirm your observation. Think about the following
questions to help you critique and engage with the article:
What does the article set out to do? What is the theoretical framework or assumptions? Are the central concepts
clearly defined? How adequate is the evidence? How does the article fit into the literature and field? Does it
advance the knowledge of the subject?n How clear is the author's writing? [14]
Part 2 of 2: Writing the Article Review
Come up with a title. This title should reflect the focus of your review. Decide between a declarative title, descriptive title,
or interrogative title.[15]
Cite the article. Under the title, place a complete citation of the article in the proper style. [16] Go to the next line to begin
your essay. Don't skip a line between the citation and first sentence. [17]
Identify the article. Start your review by referring to the title and author of the article, the title of the journal, and the year
of publication in the first paragraph.
Write the introduction. The introduction of the article review will have the identification
sentence. It will also mention the central themes of the article and the arguments and
claims of the author.[18] You also need to state the author's thesis. Sometimes, the thesis has
multiple points. The thesis may not be clearly stated in the article, so you may have to
determine the thesis yourself.[19]
o

o
o

You can also give an impression of the article, which begins and sets up
your critique. If you do this, remember that you must use formal academic
writing. This means you will use third person and refrain from using the first

person I.
Your introduction should only be 10-25% of your
review.[20]
End the introduction with your thesis. Your thesis
should address the above issues. For example:
Although the author has some good points, his
article is biased and contains some misinterpretation
of data from others analysis of the effectiveness of
the condom.[21]

Summarize the article. Express the main points, arguments, and


findings of the article in your own words, referring to your
summary for assistance. Show how the article supports its claims.
Make sure to include the article's conclusions. [22] This may be done
in several paragraphs, although the length will depend on
requirements established by your instructor or publisher.
o
o

Don't give specific examples or statistics. Just focus on the main points of the arguments. [23]
Use direct quotes from the author sparingly.

Review the summary you have written. Read over your summary several times to ensure that your words are
an accurate description of the author's article.

Write your critique. Use your outline of opinions to write several


paragraphs explaining how well the author addressed the topic. Express
your opinion about whether the article was a clear, thorough, and useful
explanation of the subject. This is the core of your article review.
Evaluate the article's contribution to the field and the importance to the
field.[24] Evaluate the main points and arguments in the article. Decide if
the author's points help her argument. Identify any biases. Decide if you
agree with the writer, then provide sufficient support as to why or why
not.[25] End by suggesting which audiences would benefit from reading
the article.[26]
Support your critique with evidence from the article or other texts.
The summary portion is very important for your critique. You must make the author's argument clear in the
summary section for your evaluation to make sense. [27]
o Remember, this is not where you say if you liked the article or not. You are assessing the significance and
relevance of the article.[28]
Use a topic sentence and supportive arguments for each opinion. For example, you might address a particular strength in
the first sentence of the opinion section, followed by several sentences elaborating on the significance of the point.
Conclude the article review. In a paragraph, summarize the
main points of the article, as well as your opinions about its
significance, accuracy, and clarity. If relevant, also comment on
implications for further research or discussion in the field.
This should only be about 10% of your overall essay.[29]
For example: This critical review has evaluated the article
"Condom use will increase the spread of AIDS" by Anthony
Zimmerman. The arguments in the article show the presence of
bias, prejudice, argumentative writing without supporting
details, and misinformation. These points weaken the authors
arguments and reduce his credibility.[30]
Proofread. Reread the review. Look for grammar, mechanics,
and usage mistakes. Make sure to cut any extra, unneeded
information.[31]
o Make sure you have identified and discussed the
o
o

3-4 key issues in the article.[32]