The object of this assignment is for you to carefully read two papers written by other groups, and to offer criticisms and suggestions for improving the paper.
You will be graded on the basis of
- how well your critique demonstrates a careful reading of the paper,
- your ability to offer concrete suggestions for improvement, and
- your ability to draw from the literature of the course in making those suggestions.
What should you say?
Your critique should have six parts:
· Begin with a summary of what you understand to be the key point(s) of the essay.
· Second, include a statement of (at least one or two) things you particularly liked about the paper.
· Third, offer a constructive criticism of the essay. You should ask yourself the following questions, but you are not limited to these.
- Do the authors clearly establish the problem the paper will address?
- Is there a clear, proactive thesis?
- Pay special attention to this. (“In this paper I will explore the many meanings of veiling in the Muslim world” is NOT a thesis. “Today veiling is more a way to express a particular kind of identity than it is a religious practice” is a thesis).
- Is there a clear argument that defends the thesis?
- Is the argument at any point weak or unconvincing?
- What questions does the paper raise without answering?
- Is the methodology clearly described?
· Is it adequate to make the argument the authors want to make?
· Are any problems spelled out and discussed?
- Do the writers sufficiently establish the setting/context of the study?
- Are all the peoples described treated respectfully/fairly?
- Is there anything you don’t understand?
- Are there unsupported claims made that need to be supported by reference to some literature or an example from the data?
- Are there tangential issues the authors get caught up in?
NOTE: The above is not meant to be a checklist to which you answer yes or no. It is a set of questions to help you evaluate the paper. If the answer to any question suggests a problem, then you should explain in as much detail as possible what is wrong. If the answer to any of these questions is that there is no problem in this area, move on.
· Fourth, offer specific and concrete suggestions for improvement.
- The emphasis here is on specific changes that might benefit the paper. That is, try to focus not only on what is wrong but on what might be done to fix it.
- The more precise your suggestions are the better – and the better grade you will get. References to papers we’ve read in the class (or other literatures you know) are especially useful.
· Fifth, list any specific and concrete problems you see: typos, errors of grammar or syntax, errors of fact.
- Give page and paragraph numbers wherever possible to help the author find the problems you are pointing out.
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