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What does my lecturer mean by 'critique'?

When your lecturer refers to 'critique', this does not mean in the sense of being negative or derogatory. Instead, it refers to a way of approaching other peoples' ideas - to question, to evaluate, to consider the accuracy and validity of ideas and information. Tertiary study is often about recognising the differing viewpoints, explanations and positions in disciplinary knowledge. Your job, as a student, is to question and evaluate these different perspectives, and, in doing so, develop and support your own position (which may be different from your lecturer's!)

Learning support for research students provides guidance on critically analysing in generating arguments and on reading critically.

In writing

In writing, critique often means to evaluate: what are the strengths and weaknesses of an idea, response, framework, theory? What are the useful elements; what are the problems? What are the competing perspectives? What could be better supported? Critical review writing in Language and Learning Online is an example of this.

Refer also to the sample critique provided in How can I use the ideas of others? in the section 'Taking a position'.

Undertake a little practise with the tutorial on analysing the language of critique and What makes a good essay?

Remember that 'critique' will vary depending on the task and discipline. An example can be made of what is expected from a literature review. Sometimes, this is a complete journal article based on assessment of the current literature. (Refer to an example of the genre of the review of the literature in How can I be more strategic with reading?) Sometimes, it's a chapter in a thesis. Sometimes, your lecturer may provide a selection of articles for you to appraise in order to write a review and critique of that particular topic area.

Regardless of the task, you are expected in all critiques to integrate the broader literature. For further guidance and examples on this issue and other relevant ones, work through 'ramp up the critique', an area just as relevant to undergraduates as postgraduates.

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