When writing about others' research, do you get bored trying to come up with new ways to critique your opponents? If so, try plugging your project-specific information into this handy template. And if you use this for a game of Mad Libs at your next departmental function, please let me know how it goes.
E-Z Source Critique Template
~Just add source material!~
X's argument is somewhat (1) positive adjective, but he/she neglected to discuss (2) recent attempts to discredit his/her approach and failed to mention (3) obscure research area that is tangentially related to the study at hand. Moreover, he/she did not account for (4) variable. X's findings would have been more (5) positive adjective if he/she had used (6) robust tool, methodology, or theory instead of (7) flawed tool, methodology, or theory. X also should have discussed the implications of (8) undeveloped line of reasoning, provided a fuller explanation of (9) a term with a complicated, shifting definition, and related his/her study to (10) latest hot study in your field.
You can play this little game solo, simply by using the list below to come up with all the words and phrases that you'll need when filling out the template in a way that is relevant to your specific source and discipline. If you're stumped for positive adjectives, try "valid," "accurate," "interesting," "novel," "elegant," "persuasive," or "compelling." Be sure to choose an adjective that is appropriate to your discipline.
(1) positive adjective; (2) recent attempts to discredit his/her approach; (3) obscure research area that is tangentially related to the study at hand; (4) variable; (5) positive adjective; (6) robust tool, methodology, or theory; (7) flawed tool, methodology, or theory; (8) undeveloped line of reasoning; (9) a term with a complicated, shifting definition; (10) latest hot study in your field
The exercise of critiquing a source can never be as simple as filling out a template, but I do hope that this slightly silly post has given you some ideas for how to frame your critiques, both conceptually and in terms of sentence structure. Please share your own go-to techniques and phrases in the comments below.