A review of a journal article is one of the common tasks that college and university students get regularly, including philosophy classes. Reviewing an article is an important assignment because it teaches you to analyze, criticize and evaluate the works written by philosophy experts, as well as to follow certain standards and conventions.
An article review in philosophy consists of a short summary of the main ideas and a critique with supporting arguments that prove the usefulness of the article to the other philosophy experts.
In case with the philosophy subject, you have to know exactly what your review is going to cover. This is because it is important to know what issues from the article are the most important and interesting to your readers.
The outline of a standard article review in philosophy goes like this:
Make sure to collect the sources that you will check in the process of writing. There are many different source on the internet today such as Nautilus, Philosophy Bro, Philosophy Stack Exchange, The American Philosophical Association, In Socrates’ Wake that will help you to ensure that the information in article is accurate and find the definitions of the most difficult terms in philosophy and related sciences. Don’t skip an opportunity to use printed materials as well because there are many books and journals that can’t be found anywhere on the web.
When you write a review of an article written in the field of philosophy, it is important to keep in mind your readers. Knowing who is going to read your paper will guide your entire writing process. Ponder over how diverse is the background knowledge that your readers have about the topic and philosophy in general. Fortunately, with article reviews, your readers usually are people who have strong knowledge and expertise in philosophy and your topic. Thus, you don’t have to do any additional research. Nonetheless, it will be wise to make use of terminology that your readers are aware of.
Actually, you will have to read the article several times. When you do the first reading, you will have to highlight everything that you don’t understand and write down your first thoughts and impressions about it. Was there anything surprising or unsurprising? What is it that you especially liked about the article? Was there anything that you didn’t like? Once you’re done with this part, it is time to read up all the text elements that were unclear in order to be more prepared for the next reading. Take notes and find answers to any questions that appeared after the first stage of reading. It is especially recommended to take notes of everything that is critical about the article because you will later discuss that when writing your review.
The process of writing a summary of the philosophy article includes synthesizing of your own understanding of the written work. Once you feel you get the general idea of the article, ensure to write down a short summary that contains one paragraph. Don’t mind the mistakes – you will correct them later. The summary writing has several purposes. First of all, when you summarize the article, you synthesize your own understanding of the article and philosophy. Second of all, your summary proves that you have spent enough time in order to understand both – the topic and the field in general.
Right under your summary, dwell upon the positive issues of the article. It is important to write the comments that are as specific as possible. For instance:
Once you have written the positive comments, it’s time to focus on the article parts that need improvement. Make sure to provide only specific and clear recommendations using simple descriptions or lists. Don’t write in vague language or use claims that have no basis in reality.
Writing your judgements or critique means talking about how well the author of the written work addresses a particular topic in philosophy. If, for instance, the article that you’re reviewing is ‘Nihilism and the Meaning of Life’ written by James Tartaglia, tell your readers if the writer did his best to prove the importance of nihilism in the field of philosophy of life. Specify the importance and the contributions of the article to the field of philosophy. Provide the main points and argument in the article. In the case with ‘Nihilism and the Meaning of Life’ written by James Tartaglia, the main points will be the following:
What is more, you will have to tell your target readers if the points that the author includes helped you in the argument. Specify if you found any biases. Also, don’t hesitate to inform your readers if you agree or disagree with the author of the article. If you do agree with him or her, make sure to tell why exactly you support these points of view. If you don’t share his or her opinion, aslo specify why your decision is completely different. Find out what kind of audience will like the content of the article and even benefit from it.
Make sure to provide your personal point of view on how useful and clear the explanation of ‘nihilism’ you found in the article is.
After everything is done, you have to summarize the main points of the article that you review. In a paragraph, you have to also give your point of view on the clarity, importance and accuracy of the article. If possible, make some suggestions for the future research in the field of philosophy. If you’re reviewing the article “Living in the Frame: Meaning on Loan from Nihilism” written by Alan Malachowski, you might mention the implications for further discussion that include potential research on Nietzsche’s belief that nihilism is ultimately beneficial because it opens up possibilities for fresh values.
In your article review in Philosophy, you will have to use one of the existing formats. Check your professor’s instructions to make sure you use the correct one. Is it the APA format? If yes, then you will be asked to provide bibliographical entry for every source that you use:
If you should use MLA format, make sure your sources look like this:
Nobody can write a high quality article review on the first try. Even the most famous and talented writers make mistakes! If possible, make sure to put your article review aside for some time. After this, take a fresh look at it and read it attentively. At this stage, you have to pay special attention to all sorts of errors – style, punctuation, spelling, grammar.
Besides, you have to make sure that all the terms that you used in your review as well as data are accurate and respond to reality.
What is more, you have to make sure that your review doesn’t include unnecessary or irrelevant information. Keep in mind that in your paper you are supposed to discuss no less than four or five issues.
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