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How to Write a Review

  • by blogitsybitsypaper

Journalists and literary critics often use the review genre. However, this type of work is also used in teaching. Students and pupils learn to analyze information, draw conclusions, and formulate their thoughts when writing a review. Read about how to write a good review and make the most of it. 

What is a Review? 

A review is a written response to a scholarly work, artistic text, or work of art: a sculpture, painting, play, film, musical, or show. A review is one of the basic genres of literary criticism, containing analysis and evaluation.  

The review as a literary genre flourished in the mid-19th century, was actively printed in magazines, and played a significant role in the work’s fate. At that time, if several critics wrote negative reviews on a novel after its publication, it could mean the end of the writer’s career. The modern review has less influence on the behavior of potential readers in the post-Soviet space, but this reduces its importance.  

Reviews are written not only by literary critics but also by ordinary readers, schoolchildren, and students in literature classes and pairs. That’s why you need to know how to write them correctly.  

How to Write a Review: General Rules 

The review has its own writing rules. 

  • Before you start, you need to get acquainted with the text to be reviewed (master’s thesis, research article, or novel). 
  • It is necessary to determine the topic studied in the article or described in the book. 
  • You can then comment on the title of the research paper or literary work. 
  • Then briefly describe the main branches of research or plot lines. The author should be well-versed in the content of the scholarly or literary work but not retell it in his or her review. 
  • It is imperative that the review comment on the relevance of the problems that the text explores or describes. 
  • The author should articulate his or her point of view about the reviewed text and convey it to the reader, supporting his or her vision with subjective perceptions and objective arguments. 
  • A review is not always a positive review. But even a negative review should not contain personal insults. Each remark should be formulated with respect for the author of the work.  

A Review of a Master’s Thesis

Writing a master’s thesis is the final stage of university study. To earn a master’s degree, students must publicly defend their work and prove their level of scholarly qualifications.  

Each student has a supervisor. You must give him or her your final version of the work at least one month before the defense to give the professor time to prepare his or her feedback and send the master’s thesis for review.  

The internal reviewer can be a professor or a scientist who works in the field relevant to the topic of the master’s thesis. The thesis review is written in a special form and has an approved structure:

  • The reviewer evaluates the relevance of the research; 
  • The professor evaluates how effective the research methods used are; 
  • The author concludes whether the student was able to use in practice the theoretical knowledge acquired during the study; 
  • The scholar evaluates the results of the work and the prospects for their use; 
  • Finally, the author lists the shortcomings of the master’s work. 

After reviewing the master’s work, the supervisor writes a review on it. In the review, he briefly describes all sections of the diploma and evaluates the theoretical level of the student and the depth of his research. The supervisor indicates whether the work is permissible for defense. 

After gaining admission to the defense, the master’s thesis is sent for external review. The reviewer is usually a researcher, an expert on the topic under study. It is a person who has nothing to do with the student’s learning process and is not his or her instructor. He determines the work’s strengths and weaknesses, assesses the student’s professional competence, and recommends awarding the graduate with the educational qualification level of a master’s degree.  

Subjectivism and any style of a language other than scholarly are unacceptable in the review of a research paper or master’s thesis.  

Movie Review

  • At the beginning of the paper, which film is being reviewed should be noted. Next, mention the director and briefly describe the features of the plot. If the film is an adaptation of a novel, this should be mentioned. 
  • If the film’s title is symbolic, it should be explained to the average reader. The person who reads the review should be all clear and, at the same time, interesting. 
  • In a review, you cannot just write that you liked the film. The author’s opinion must be understood in the text and supported by arguments. 
  • Next, the text mentions the time and place of the act, the era. It is important to say whether the events occur in our day or future. 
  • The review recalls the characters in the film for the reader’s holistic view of the work of art. If the action in the film takes place in two-time strata (past and present), this should be clear from the text of the review. Keep in mind that the film’s content must not be duplicated in the text of the review. If the review contains a spoiler, a person will not be interested in attending the theater after it. Therefore, the critic in his text is limited to general facts about the film. 
  • The review’s author should describe the inner content of the work and its embodiment. It is necessary to explain what the creator wanted to say (the story of becoming a great scientist) and whether he succeeded in it (no, the image of the main character is not revealed enough). 
  • The final paragraphs talk about the purpose of the film. Here the author summarizes how much the artist succeeded in achieving the goal. If the director wanted to show the reader the pre-revolutionary era, did he succeed, and if he failed, where did he go wrong. 

Not every review of a work of art can be tailored to this algorithm. But the essence of the review genre comes down to answering three questions – what, how, and why. If it is possible to find the answers to them and trace the author’s attitude to the work of art being appraised – then the review is written according to the laws of the genre.  

Book Review 

To write a book review, you have to read it. It seems obvious, but sometimes people think that reading the abstract or just half of the work is enough. But it’s best not to rush into literary criticism.  

To write a review, the author must form his or her opinion of the work. The critic has a certain literary experience and competence at the time of acquaintance with the book and builds his subjective point of view on their basis.  

When working with this genre of literary criticism, the author must determine for himself what is good for him in literature and what is bad, that is, to create his concept of aesthetics. The reader must understand why the author evaluates some works positively and negatively.  

When writing one’s own or reading someone else’s review, one must understand that it is always subjective and cannot reflect only the objective. Therefore, there will always be readers and fellow critics whose aesthetic system will not coincide with the reviewer’s perceptions.  

The key skills of a literary critic are the ability to articulate one’s thoughts well and vividly and to make the reader fall in love with the work in a few sentences.  

Most reviews come out within a few weeks of a book launch. Therefore, you need to have time to respond quickly and give the reader an answer to the question of whether or not to buy and read the book. The text may also indicate who should read the book, such as fans of conspiracy novels or historical prose. And if the book isn’t worth reading, you should state why.