Features of a critical review

Text version

Features of a critical review

A critical review requires you to evaluate an academic text and make your own judgement about it based on various criteria.

This guide points out common features of critical reviews. Always check with your lecturer to confirm the exact requirements of your assignment.

Critical reviews can present positive and/or negative judgements.

Critical reviews involve two main tasks:

  • summary
  • evaluation.

The evaluation criteria can vary depending on the discipline.

The aim of a critical review is to evaluate the text. This means you must be very familiar with the text, and your writing needs to clearly present your judgement.


  • Usually looks like an entry in a bibliography, and includes full bibliographic details of the text.


  • Gives an overview of the text including the importance of the topic or question.
  • Briefly states your evaluation of the merits of the text.
  • Outlines your review’s approach and structure.

Summary (may be combined with evaluation)

  • Describes the key points from the text, including the author’s intentions and findings.

Evaluation (may be combined with summary)

  • Presents strengths and weaknesses.
  • Focuses on the evaluation criteria to present your judgement of the text.


  • Usually quite short, so can be included at the end of the evaluation or as a separate section.
  • Restates your overall evaluation.