We see articles everywhere - in magazines, on blogs, on social media, etc. Moreover, students are often given various article-related assignments: to write one, to analyze one, to give an article summary or to write an article critique. While these assignments aren't rare, they can confuse a lot and cause a lot of troubles, especially if you hadn't deal with them before.
So if you're struggling with working on such assignment, here are some tips that could ease the process for you.
If you aren't assigned any specific topic, you need to choose one. Picking topics for academic articles can be difficult: you need to find a topic that interests you, would seem appealing to the audience, and can be researched easily.
It's crucial for a topic to meet all those requirements, otherwise, the process could be even more challenging. A good way to pick one is to select a pretty wide topic and then narrow it down to a more specific one.
There are plenty of ways to write an article on a certain topic - you can tell a story and be informal, provide specific data and be as scientific as possible, etc. However, the style and the approach you pick depends on the audience greatly. If you're writing an article for a college newspaper addressing fellow students, that's one thing. If you're writing an article to impress your professor, that's a completely another one.
Keep this in mind before you even start researching: this will help you choose the most appropriate informational sources.
Of course, the more sources you study, the better. Even if you're time-limited, try doing even a brief analysis of a couple of sources. Be sure to make notes in the process: this way it would be easier for you to remember where did you pick a certain quote or a certain fact from.
Don't forget how important it is to back your statements with facts and to use some statistics or scientific data to support your writing.
An outline can ease the writing process for you a lot. It ensures that you won't miss any important fact you wanted to mention and that your thoughts and arguments will be well-structured. That's why try not to skip this part. It doesn't take much time to craft an outline but it will make the further writing much quicker and more pleasant as well.
Not all students are able to do so: many could be time-limited. However, if you do have time before submitting your article, never settle with the first draft. While it might be written in accordance with the outline, it could still be very raw.
If you have time, rewrite. If you don't have any, at least try polishing your draft until it looks as good as possible.
Now, when we've figured the basics of article writing, let's move to other related assignments.
An article summary can be a separate task or a part of a more complex task, like writing an article review or an article critique. Either way, your approach to summary writing should be the same: you should retell the article while keeping its original ideas and main points.
Here's how you can do it:
1. Identify the main idea
Sometimes it's easy to do and sometimes it's hard. When it's easy, all you need to do is to formulate this main idea well enough, making a proper thesis out of it. When it's hard, however, here are some additional clues that could make the process much easier for you:
2. Pick the arguments that are most important
A good summary is always shorter than an original piece. It length often depends on the requirements you might be given but in any case, it would be impossible to mention all the arguments used in an article. That's why you'll have to choose wisely.
The best way to do so is to write a short outline of the article, mentioning all the arguments used. Then you should analyze this outline. Think which arguments could be safely excluded without ruining the idea of an article and which are important. Come up with a list of arguments you definitely need to keep.
3. Move on to writing
A proper way to start a summary is to mention the title of the article along with its author's name. How to write an article title in a paper? For example, like that: "In the article "How to write a proper academic research" James Don explains…".
Include the thesis of an article or come up with your own one, mentioning it in the first sentence of your summary. Then mention all the point that support this thesis.
Try to focus on condensing here. If your summary is brief yet allows to clearly understand what the article is about - you've done it right!
Now that you know how to write an article summary you can use this knowledge to make more challenging tasks much easier.
While the articles could be written for any audience, an article review is usually written for those who are well familiar with the topic. The main point of it is to summarize the article as well, while also giving your opinion about it. It might seem challenging but the good news is that your opinion can and needs to be subjective.
1. Write a summary
This should be easy if you use the guidelines written above. Your goal is not to make such summary too polished and ready to submit but to use it as a guideline for further writing. That's why you shouldn't focus too much on how it looks - rather on how much information it contains.
2. Analyze and research
After you have all the information presented briefly, you are able to analyze it, formulating your own opinion. This is also the part when you can use some additional research on the topic to help you. You can even contact some of the experts in the field to ask them what they think about the topic. Moreover, you can look at any article review example you find decent enough and use it as guidelines for your writing.
3. Write an outline
Once you have all the information you need, all that's left for you is to structure it properly. An outline could help you with that, giving an opportunity to present your arguments in the right order.
Remember that while a review is all about your subjective opinion, it still needs to look like a proper response to the article - and try to make this show in your outline and further writing.
4. Write the review itself
If you've done everything right, you won't have any trouble with this. Your only goal is to make this look like you do understand the material well enough.
An article critique is very similar to an article review - that's why they're often confused with each other. However, there's one important difference you need to remember: a review is your subjective opinion, while a critique has to be objective. A review can support an author or oppose them, while the goal of a critique is to look for biases and to prove they are biases with facts.
That's why the whole critique writing process would be pretty much the same as a review writing one. What should be different is your approach: you have to analyze the writing more thoroughly, looking for things you might want to criticize and for biases you might want to debunk.
Article-related assignments can be challenging and confusing. But hopefully, this article will help you understand the difference between them easier and master the writing basics.