How to Write Powerful Advanced Article Reviews

Template method empowers you. Drive Knol quality higher, promote the meritocracy

By trial and error, the Knol experiment is discovering new ways to reward quality articles with a simple star-based rating bolstered by a short question survey for subscribed users. We’ve prepared this Knol to bolster the system by presenting a structured method that encourages readers to thoroughly review Knols out in the open.

It’s our second “paint by the numbers” approach. Both our basic and advanced procedurals use a template to build each review. If reviews proliferate, they should motivate authors to improve their work (which in turn bolsters everyone’s reading and learning experience). An extension of our basic template (a top pick/top viewed Knol), this advanced version is more involved. And it’s worth it.

The Value of Advanced Reviews

 

We’re targeting novice and experienced article review writers. Although specifically developed for review of user content in online article communities like Knol, students and book reviewers in traditional roles will also discover benefits from this article.

Before starting, we strongly recommended reading How to Quickly Write a Basic Article Review,which demonstrates a simple one paragraph review template (about 100 words). It takes a few minutes  to complete (once you’ve tried it). Learn the basics and you’ll speed through this article.

We’re assuming that you’ve never written a thorough review. Intuitively, you sense that to be able to contribute more effectively to user-content communities like Knol, your work and the work of others will improve if reviewed in a fair and evenhanded way. You can take both praise and criticism, which is the real value of advanced reviews. And you can give both to encourage quality work. Perhaps you’ve just read a compelling Knol and wish to encourage the author to add content, consider other points, correct factual errors or write something else. Or you want to attack a thesis you find egregiously in error. You want to pen a first serious review.

Outcomes

As you complete of this procedural, you’ll learn:
  1. The steps toward understanding the message and messenger
  2. How to describe the impact of an article
  3. How to compile a review for presentation

What other values characterize reviews?

 

By showing you how to write your first serious review, you’ll be introduced to a world you might have thought falls outside of your skill set. Many people underestimate themselves and overestimate others. Becoming an effective review writer increases your value as a member of online user content communities and provides new avenues to build your reputation, even to link back to goods and services for improved monetization. The citizenship you gain by reviewing the work of others fits the adage “what goes around, comes around.” And on the Internet, it can happen quickly. If you are a student of Malcolm Gladwell, you know it can happen in a blink. If you Twitter, it can happen in a tweet.

How this article is set up

Three sections guide you towards completion of your first advanced reviews:

  1. Steps toward understanding the message and messenger.
  2. Describing the impact of an article
  3. Compiling and publishing your review
Each section provides ideas, knowledge and skills and delivers the opportunity to apply the knowledge to a review. External links to definitions are provided. Each part is wrapped by a summary to reinforce what you’ve learned.
A key reason for writing article reviews in online user content communities is to encourage article grading for meritorious efforts so that less-than-stellar work withers on the vine. An axiom of review is that it’s best to only review articles that strike you as having innate quality (although this can be hard to define). Why rant in a review about articles that are spam or have been plagiarized from another source? Where’s the gain if you take your time to tell an author that the effort is poor, misleading, incomplete, or just plain nonsense? Save your review efforts for high merit work that will only get better through review suggestions. Use the provided five star system, questionnaire, comment box and inappropriate content flag instead. Use them on every Knol you take the time to read, even if you plan to write a review.At minimum, any Knol you read in whole or substantial part should receive a star rating. For clearly poor work (in your opinion), one star (hated it) is a much stronger message than no stars.Some Knols are well written, supported by linked research, illustrated to a fault and yet still make your blood boil because they present a thesis that you deem egregiously in error. Should you avoid reviewing this kind of Knol? Should you merely give it one star, avoid the quick question review and perhaps leave a challenge comment? It’s a personal and ethical decision. If the Knol is gaining page views and stars, you may want to share your contrary view in a review. And this is an ethical way to recognize two important things:

  1. Quality Knols are not always going to be to your liking
  2. Next to presenting your point-of-view in a challenge Knol, a challenge review can be an effective countermeasure that improves the system
Since we live in a show-and-tell world, a complete review example is provided next. It demonstrates how a typical review might read. Additional resources and a glossary are provided to add greater depth to the learning experience.

Article Review Example

This review was built using the “paint by numbers” template detailed in this Knol:
 A perceptive article from an emerging small business management sphere.
The knol, Small Business Coach, written by Lisa Murray, analyzes the role and contribution of the coach in enhancing small business performance.
The author presents a rationale for small business managers and those wishing to engage the services of a small business coach, which the author believes is beneficial for both the successful establishment and management of a small business. The author is keen to point out that a Small Business Coach can add value in multiple ways and can deliver benefits many times greater than the costs of engagement. My overall impression is that the author has documented the line of argument in a helpful way whilst employing a tidy, relevant and logical methodology.
In this article, the author has relied on the research involved in completing an MBA from a internationally recognized university, her years of coaching experience and her own “hands-on” insights gleaned from the establishment of her own business. The author contends that whether you are already a small business owner or want to be one – you don’t need to go it alone.
Small business owners will find this article useful for understanding the role and contribution that a business coach can add to the performance of their enterprise as would small business intenders who would benefit from the services of an experienced companion as they undertake the challenging journey of working for themselves.
Though lacking informative depth in any particular area, the article does clearly define the differing roles of coach, mentor and consultant. It lists 45 strategies that small business owners can adopt to revive their business. And it sets out five value-added ways that a business coach could be engaged (project based; direction-setting regular checkup; stretch targets; modeling; and mentoring)
The author nicely articulates the benefits of engaging a Small Business Coach, and this gives support to the author’s key claim:
“Ask your coach for support – a good business coach will have a range of mindset techniques, tools and tips that enable you to move past these paralyzing emotions and into a space where anything is possible!”

In summary, I believe that the author’s position — a Small Business Coach can add value to small businesses — has been effectively supported. Small business owners and intenders may be encouraged to engage the services of a small business coach after reading and understanding this article. Lisa has provided her own contact details for those so motivated, and gives insight on how to find a coach in your locale.

# # #

What’s needed to proceed?

Time to begin preparing an advanced article review. Here’s what you need:

  • An article worth reviewing (picking a topic that ignites your passion or intellectual curiosity can help). Be sure that the article offers a Review This Knol button (Knol authors have the option of hiding the button, thus turning off unsolicited reviews)
  • An open blank document in a word processor like Word, Google Docs or OpenOffice.
If you have these ready, here we go.

PART 1 – Understanding the message and messenger

Read first to enjoy and to learn. Relax and let the author’s Knol do its work. You may be impressed by the content and style. You may be put off. Angry. Delighted. Make notes. If you find well-stated points, write them down exactly (for use as outquotes, described later). Do the same for mis-stated points. In Step 3, you will read or scan the article again, at least in part. Going forward as a reviewer, a single reading is all you’ll need because you’ll know what, why, when and how to gather review information.
Step 2
Study the questions below. They help you frame more appropriate questions to ask and answer in your review. The questions lubricate the review process.
With your writing document accessible, copy and paste the following questions, then provide answers based on your initial read. The key to success is to adapt these questions to the article. You don’t need to answer all of them. Nor do you need to treat them as the only questions. For example, if you feel the article is high quality overall but you oppose the views and conclusions expressed in a small portion, focus your questions and review on the small portion, providing positive general commentary on the balance. You might say something like “This is an important and powerfully-presented article in the main, but the author’s arguments about XYZ are faulty and misleading. The balance of my review focuses only on the misleading section. Otherwise, I highly recommend this article.”Many first-time reviewers struggle with questions like the ones below. When people exiting a theater are asked what they thought about the movie or stage production, most affirm like or dislike but cannot articulate why, beyond vague yet obvious responses like “exciting,” “dramatic,” “boring,” “too long,” “wow, what a chase scene,” etc. Overcome this by discussing the work with another person. If no one’s available, self-reflective and fair consideration helps. A cup of your favorite palliative beverage and a quiet room is conducive to good answers. And, we’ve tried to frame the questions to elicit clear answers. Copy and paste time!

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Primary Review Questions

Record the full title of the Knol and name of the author. “Anonymous” is a name.

OUTQUOTE: Are there text quotation(s) from the article that captured the key essence of the author’s message or a point you wish to challenge? Write them down exactly when you find them during the first reading, or make a note to record them during the next reading.

  1. In what field of study does this article fall? i.e. business, management, entrepreneurial, life, education, health, religion, auto maintenance, marriage, dating, technology etc.). Sometimes this is hard to pin down. A useful way is the high altitude method: from 30,000 feet, what does this Knol seem to be about?
  2. What is the author’s stated occupation or point-of-view? (You may need to visit the author’s Knol page and bio, if available, to get this). Another version of this question: Where is the author coming from? If not available, the answer to the question is “not available.” (This question suggests a Best Practice for Knol writers: include a short bio at the end of your Knols, linked back to your longer Bio page)
  3. What is the central theme of the article?
  4. Who is the primary target audience of this article?
  5. What is the author trying to convey to this target audience?
  6. What activity of the target audience will the information in this article effect?
  7. Out of the central theme (#3), what are the chief point(s) of the article?
  8. What research or experience has the author relied upon in this article?
  9. Who or what else in the article supports the author’s position?
  10. What is the major finding or conclusion that the author reaches in this article?
  11. What changes or actions will the primary target audience take or do better after reading this article?
  12. Who else could benefit from this article?
  13. If you sense a secondary audience, what change or actions will the secondary group take or do better after reading this article? (for example, an article about child behavior directed at parents has grandparents as a secondary audience even if the author does not acknowledge this).
  14. What are the article’s major weaknesses? (for example, failure to acknowledge the role of grandparents and close friends in the prior question).
  15. How does the article cover or make up for this weakness?
  16. Is there a major positive outcome from this article? What is it?
  17. Does the author advance a primary position in the article? What is it?
  18. What key understanding, insight or improvement has the author introduced in this article?
  19. What could or should this article lead to in terms of future research, other articles or author contact?
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Step 3
You probably have unanswered questions. And you have answers that may be weak or unfair. It’s time to read or scan the article again, more critically this time, to bolster your answers and re-evaluate sensitive or incomplete elements. You may be surprised at how efficient this can be. Reason? The questions above have lubricated your mind. Now you are in teacher mode, searching for inconsistencies. But you are also the student and your effort during the second reading is to establish stronger and more balanced answers to present to others.Your action in Step 3 is to modify your answers through fair and balanced re-review. And, toss inappropriate questions. Keep questions you are unable to answer if they remain pertinent to the Knol or article.
Summary of Part 1By reading, answering the questions, re-reading and refining your answers, you’ve determined the chief or key message(s) that the author endeavors to convey. You’ve also identified the key elements and mindset of the messenger. Dual reading bolsters your integrity as a reviewer and trains you to accomplish the same in a single reading going forward. Now, let’s do something with your answers.

PART 2 – Describe the impact of the Knol?

Image source #2 – flickr.com 

Take a moment to reflect on the two readings and try to characterize the impact. This is YOUR review so there is no wrong or right in relation to your impressions. If others don’t agree, they are free to write their own review.

The act of describing is a search for appropriate descriptive words. Finding the best adjectives for your impressions won’t be a struggle when you employ our compilation. We’ve prepared lists of descriptive words to speed the process. These words may match your impressions or stimulate better adjectives The lists are identified with the letters from A to I. We encourage you to add your own.
The core purpose behind these lists is another series of questions, a more “mature” series intended to reveal Metaimpressions (information about and beyond the Knol itself). This is another copy and paste effort that you should do now. Paste these questions into your document ahead of the Q&A from Step 2.Note that each question is tied to our List of suggested adjectives, below. For each question, write your answer as a single word or series of adjectives that resonate for you. (For one of the questions, you’ll add ly to the word(s), which usually makes them adverbs). The selected words best sum up your impressions. Don’t be concerned if you can’t generate words for each question. As the compilation process takes place later in our procedural, your recursive mind will fill in some of the blanks.
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Meta Review Questions

1 – What type of article or Knol are you reviewing? (List A)

2 – What is the significance of the topic in your opinion? (List B)

3 – What words best describe the area covered by the Knol? (List C)

4 – What does the article attempt to do? (List D)

5 – What line of reasoning does the author seem to take? (List E)

6 – How successful is the author’s argument? (List B)

7 – From your overall impression – what has the author achieved? (List F)

8 – What word(s) describe the author presentation of the case or chief argument (List A)

9 – Select up to three words that best describe this author’s effort (List H)

10 – What voice has the author used? (List I)

11 – How has the author presented the argument (List A, adding ly to form an adverb)

34 – How would you characterize the author’s success with the Knol? (List F)

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List AAuthentic, Inspirational, Reactionary, Conservative, Ironic, Realistic, Controversial, Liberal, Credible, Romantic, Cultural, Mystical, Satiric, Didactic, Scholarly, Objective, Significant, Orthodox, Spiritual, Expressionistic, Philosophic, Subjective, Plausible, Symbolic, Pragmatic, Utilitarian, Humorous, Profound, Impressionistic, Radical, analytical, well articulated, authoritative, balanced, candid, clear, commendable, competent, concise, creative, decisive, disciplined, dynamic, engaging, enlightening, enriching, entertaining, expansive, explicit, expressive, extraordinary, fascinating, forceful, genuine, helpful, imaginative, impressive, ingenious, inspiring, intriguing, knowledgeable, masterful, noteworthy, opportune, orderly, organized, perceptive, persuasive, plausible, pointed, praiseworthy, precise, professional, progressive, rare, realistic, reflective, relevant, remarkable, significant, skilled, stimulating, symbolic, sympathetic, systematic, thoughtful, timely, unique, useful, valuable, well versed, warm, worthwhile

List B

core, foundation, fundamental,  topical, contemporary, important, significant, vital, key, essential, critical, crucial, major, central, necessary, pivotal, principal, beneficial, basic, weighty, emerging.

List C

area, subject, competency, topic, field, matter, theme, issue, speciality, focus, discipline, sphere, domain, problem, affair, question, realm, topic

List D

Questions, probes, queries, explores, looks into, investigates, searches for, surveys, seeks, examines, delves into, researches, enquires into, interrogates, argues that, confronts, scrutinises, casts doubt on, reviews, assesses, analyses, considers, appraises, charts, maps out, offers advice,

List E

Argument, case, line of reasoning, claim, contention, defence, rationale, basis, an explanation, the grounds, the motivation, belief, opinion, line of argument, view, assertion, declaration, statement, allegation, principle.

List F

Developed, explained, fleshed out, advanced, progressed, expanded, described, defended, rationalised, validated, explained, justified, supported, interpreted, clarified, represented.

List G

Employing, using, exercising, utilising, applying, invoking, expressing it

List H

Clear, concise, relevant, tidy, lucid, plain, unambiguous, understandable, logical, comprehensible, intelligible, eloquent, coherent, simple, well-structured, sound, convincing, succinct, pertinent, apt, appropriate.

List I

Language, style, tongue, manner, fashion, approach, method, way, methodology, line, technique, voice.

Summary of Part 2
Here we have looked at the descriptive elements of an article or Knol review, focusing primarily on your impressions. A new set of Meta questions helps record those impressions, bolstered by lists of adjectives to aid the descriptive process. As in most human endeavors, an ability to clearly state what we think and why we think it builds durable relationships and advances helpful agendas and missions. Here, our mission is to alert others in a fair and balanced way so they can read quality Knols. A secondary mission is to encourage writers to do a better job even as we praise or fault them.

PART 3 – Compile your article review

Image #3 – flickr.com
Note: this section is undergoing revision to make it easier to use

Step 1

Copy the template identified below into the word document already opened and with data from Part 1 and Part 2..
Step 2
Leave the ‘black’ text but change the ‘blue‘ text to reflect your answers from Part 1 and Part 2. Refer to the question number in Part 1 and 2, to find the matching place in the template.
Step 3
Read the compiled review and make sure it ‘reads right’ and that it accurately describes your impressions as well as the facts of the message and the messenger.
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Article Review Template

A(n) (1 – List A) article on a (2 – List B) (3 – What field of study? i.e. business, management, entrepreneurial, life, educational) (List C)
This knol, (4 – “The full name of the article”) written by the (5 – The author’s stated position) (6 – The author’s name), (7 – List D) (8 – What is the central theme of the article?) . The author presents a(n) (9 – List E) for (10 – Who is the primary target audience of this article?) to (11 – What is the author trying to convey to this target audience?) which the author believes is (12 – List B) for (13 – What activity of the target audience will the information in this article effect?) (3 – In what field of study?). (6 – The author’s name) is keen to point out (14 – What is the one major theme of the article?). My overall impression is that the author has (15 – List F ) the (16 – List E) in a (17 – List A) way while (18 – List G) a (19 – List H), (20 – List H) and (21 – List H) (22 – List I).
In this article, the author has relied on (23 – What research or experience has the author relied upon in this article?). (6 – The author’s name) sites (24 – Who else in the article, supports the author’s position?). The author contends that (25 – What is the major finding or conclusion that the author reaches in this article?).
(10 – Who is the primary target audience of this article?) would find this article useful for (26 – What could the primary target audience do better after reading this article?) as would (27 – Who else could benefit from this article?) for (28 – What could the seccondary audience do better after reading this article?). Though lacking (29 – What is this articles major weakness?) the article (30 – How does the article cover or make up for this weakness?).
The author has been able to (31 – What is the major positive to come out of this article?) which gives support to (6 – The author’s name) key claim that;
“(QUOTE – What quote from the text of the article captures the key essence of the author’s message)”
In summary, I believe that the author’s position that (32 – What primary position has the author taken in the article?) has been (33 – List A)ly (34 – List F). (10 – Who?) and (27 – Who?) may find (35 – What key understanding, insight or improvement has the author introduced in this article?) by reading and understanding this article. (36 – What could or should this article lead to in terms of future research, other articles or author contact?).
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Step 4

Pre-publish your Review.

Get back to a palliative mode and slip into the job of editor. Now you want to read and burnish the review, making it pleasant for others. If you have access to a trusted companion, get a pre-publish opinion. When satisfied, go ahead and copy and paste the review into the Knol’s review window by clicking Review this Knol. This produces a standard Knol creation window.

Step 5

Publish your review. The process is like writing a new Knol. The tools invite you to desktop publish your review using available fonts, text sizes, bold and italic — the full features set. You can even import YouTube videos. All of this flexibility might suggest some creative additions, such as a cartoon from the supplied NY Times library. When complete, you click the Publish button.

Also provided is a unique Beta set of Google questions. These appear after the editing window. We recommend answering these by adjusting the slider under each. This information may prove useful in the future as Google develops metrics around the slider positions for articles that receive several reviews.

Summary

Here we took the answers from Part 1 and Part 2 to compile an article review and then reworked it to ensure a smooth reader experience. Your review should now be published! Congratulations.

                                                          

Additional Resources:

1 – For an introduction to providing a review for the Knol Project see: Knol Review 

2 – For another approach to the topic of ‘write an article review’ see the site: University of South Australia 
3 – For a glossary of writing terms see the Academy of Art University: Glossary of writing terms 
                                                                                                 

Conclusion – How to Write a Powerful Advanced Article Review

The key lessons we endeavored to impart to you are:
  1. The answers required to understand the message and the messenger.
  2. Ways to describe the impact an article has.
  3. The method used to create an article review
The key outcome from this training session is to learn how to write an article review so that we can contribute appropriately to online user-content communities. While initially employing a ‘paint by numbers’ approach, it is hoped that participants in this training session will go on to develop their own article review style while independant of the template but still adhering to the key principles.
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Reference & Image Source

Image source #1 by takomabibelot Attribution 2.0 Generic – 28 Feb 09  http://www.flickr.com/photos/takomabibelot/309130731/

Image source #2 by Sudhamshu Attribution 2.0 Generic – 28 Feb 09 http://www.flickr.com/photos/sudhamshu/2778728708/

Image source #3 by Brian “DoctaBu” Moore Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic – 28 Feb 09 http://www.flickr.com/photos/doctabu/243468852/

How to Quickly Write a Basic Article Review

Summary

Online article communities suffer from spam, plagiarism and low quality content. An effective countermeasure is an article review system in the hands of trusted contributors. Although subjective by definition, such a system can augment reliance on the math of the algorithms used to rate articles.

Few participants in online communities have learned basic and largely intuitive review skills. You may be among them and don’t know how or where to start.

Start here. This article provides a “paint by numbers” approach for those that have never written an online review but wish to improve content quality for all. For the authors in this group, giving as good as they get is a key motivation. For everyone else, participation yields the reward of helping build an increasingly worthwhile web destination.

Overview and Example

“C’mon, people now. Smile on your writers. Everybody get together, review one another, write now”.1
Article reviews can be written quickly and efficiently by using a simple impressions table together with pre-formatted but editable sentences. This method produces a unique review of ~100 words. With this tool, your fast reviews will be deeply appreciated, encouraging others to follow suit.
And even if you prefer to roll your own with review messages as simple as “loved it” or “hated it,” we encourage your participation. You will no doubt get as good as you give.
The easy process we advocate is targeted primarily at online article reviews. Our method covers the key areas that article readers find most valuable. Whether you are simply an appreciative reader or an author who wants to get as good as you give, our method speeds reviews and therefore should increase the quantity as it promotes quality work.
A key point to make in our advocacy of article reviews is that we don’t recommended reviewing poor articles. The key idea is to invest review efforts on worthy articles, the ones you’d gladly recommend to friends and colleagues.
Although we employ a standard phrasing or pre-formatted sentence approach as a key accelerator, our article review system still has the capacity to produce over 60,000 unique reviews. And, you can break away from standard phrasing with your own choice of adjectives.
Here’s an example of how a completed online article review looks, right out of our method;

“The article titled ‘Pricing Tips’, written by the Small Business Coach John Smith, sets out to show that there are a lot more strategies than the conventional mark-up on cost that a small business can adopt to determine selling prices. The author’s position and argument was easily understood and it was an invigorating read. Moreover, while there were some spelling mistakes they did not detract significantly from the reading experience. Smith engaged a smooth writing style with witty inclusions, bringing a real effervescence to the reading experience. I am knowledgeable about this subject and believe that the content was without fault and the author made some good points that others might find useful. Overall, I would rate this article as a great read of high merit.”

If this falls short — you want to produce a more in-depth review — proceed to the Knol entitled How to Write an Article Review – Advanced

Article Review Purpose – Academic vs. Online Communities

The key purpose of an academic review is to summarize and evaluate an article based on other related texts. The reviewer presents a fair and reasonable judgment of quality and accuracy (e.g., excellence) in a workmanlike, scholarly way. This process requires asking question of the author’s statements and opinions and then passing judgment on the content, structure and strengths/weaknesses of the text and how each of these areas relate to the text’s purpose and intended audience. An academic review is scholarly, rigorous, and supported by research. It’s fair and balanced
.

Online communities, which is an open online writing and publishing website, use review systems for academic and other purposes. However, the chief aim is the determination of basic quality rather than academic excellence. Key aims of the article review process in online communities include weeding out spam, plagiarism, and low quality content. The rationale is this: while these low value and undesirable articles find easy entry into open source sites, they should never find a place in a community that adheres to a review and rating system for acceptance.
Low quality articles may slip through the entry gate and (too) often get the undue attention of search engine spider algorithms; but these articles will never be acknowledged or rated by an active human reviewing community of identified, respected authors. Human review assures that low value articles will eventually fade from view. However, when human review is voluntary, many on-line communities (like Scribd, Hubpages and many more) encounter fading that is too slow. Because voluntary reviews are disappointingly slow to develop at these sites, taking out the trash is not the priority task it should be.
For these reasons, it’s best to only write article reviews for quality articles. The response to spam, plagiarism, and low quality content should be via another mechanism, something fast like a rating or flagging system together with an appropriate comment entry about unacceptability. Each of these response techniques is provided  to a greater or lesser degree, in the single click structures that appear around articles at many other publishing sites. For example, the five-star Rate this applet is becoming an Internet-wide standard that all of us should use as a first step toward superior quality content at the websites we regularly use. The second step, an actual written review, is our topic here.
Since our review recommendation is to only deal with quality articles in the first place, the Impressions Table below only provides the more positive article ratings of Excellent, Great, Good and Average. The lowest rating, Average, still send the signal that the article is worth reading.

Preparation

Look at the questions below. You’ll answer these in the Impressions Table in (Step 4). Keep them in mind as you read articles and you will increase the number of reviews your write:
        1. Was the article clearly written?
        2. Was the argument/message easily understood?
        3. Was it an interesting read?
        4. How did the spelling and grammar mistakes affect the read?
        5. What was its readability speed or flow characteristics?
        6. Did the author successfully introduce some sharp, witty or clever bits?
        7. How accurate was the content?
        8. How useful was this content to you?
Of course, these questions pre-suppose some expertise, but the standard is not so tall that well meaning readers should avoid doing reviews. Many of us are innately equipped to spot poor grammar, spelling and punctuation; to detect jerky flow and difficult-to-understand expressions; to recognize wit or the author’s skill with metaphors and similes, both of which add interest and insight to the writing. We may be less skilled to detect inaccuracies, yet the last question, usefulness, often overcomes this insofar as a fair review is concerned.

Step-by-step instructions

These instructions begin with the creation of a document that will house your review as you build it. Any capable word processor is suitable (there’s a free word processor at Google Docs with the further benefit of on line storage and access). The instructions presuppose that you have an interest in the article’s topic, your motivation for reviewing it.

1. Step One – Open a Review Document

Open a new document and position its window to capture your keystrokes. Save the empty document with an appropriate name, like Review-PricingTips. Scan the chosen article and author’s profile to identify and enter the following in your review window;

  • The title (i.e. Pricing Tips)
  • The author’s stated role (i.e. Small Business Coach) if available
  • The author’s published or username for this article (i.e. Peter Baskerville)

2. Step Two – 1st Read “Absorbed”

You may have already done Step Two and now wish to review the article because it’s worth it. On the other hand, you’ve not yet read the article. However, you suspect the article is going to be good and you read it for the first time as the interested and absorbed reader that you are. The impressions you gain on the 1st read will help you complete the table we offer in Step 4. Read now to enjoy and to learn because you are interested in the topic and want to benefit from this author’s work on the subject.

3. Step Three – 2nd Read “Detached”

The 2nd read will be approached in a different manner. You’ll remain “detached,” continually asking questions of the author as an arms-length observer. The eight primary questions are listed above, under Preparation. Reading “detached” is not always easy because a skillful writer continually draws you in. Resist! If you do it often enough, you’ll soon figure out how to switch from “absorbed” reader for enjoyment purposes to “detached” reader for review purposes. In fact, with time you may become capable of simultaneous absorbed and detached reading, which is the standard for newspaper and movie critics who only get one pass.

4. Step Four – Theme and Impressions

Based on your 1st and 2nd readings, write in your document a single sentence that describes the author’s central theme, argument or message. Then look at the Impressions Table below. For each row determine the word/phrase that you feel best answers the question. Take note of the Question Number (A to H) with the corresponding answer grade (1 to 4). To help out, we provide a copy and paste version below the table. You’ll highlight the section, then CTRL-C to copy, CTRL-V to paste into your document.
 Impressions Table  Excellent 1  Great 2  Good 3  Average 4
 (A) Was it clearly written and easily understood?  Crystal clear  Easily understood  Orderly  Sufficiently
 (B) Was it an interesting read?  Invigorating  Absorbing  Interesting  Satisfying
 (C) How much did the spelling and grammatical mistakes affect the reading?  Undetectable  Only one  Evident but OK  Should be corrected
 (D) What was its readability speed or flow?  Graceful  Polished  Smooth  Acceptable
 (E) Was it sharp, witty or clever  Effervescent  Delightful  Pleasant  Adequate
 (F) How accurate was the content?  Without fault  General agreement  No real issue  Raised some questions
 (G) How useful was the content to you?  Totally relevant  Useful for many  Some useful points  Just one thing of value
 (H) OVERALL  Highly recommend  Meritorious  Worthwhile  Acceptable

5. Step Five – Copy & Paste

Copy & paste the complete standard phrases (those between the red cut marks) list below into your document. Using your question and answer notes, delete the question headers as well as the three answers responses that you did not select.
————————— start copy & paste below here ——————————–

(A) UNDERSTANDING

  1. EXCELLENT – The author’s line of reasoning was crystal clear
  2. GREAT – The author’s position and argument was easily understood
  3. GOOD –  The author presented an orderly explanation of the concepts
  4. AVERAGE – The author presented sufficient information to understand the concepts

(B) INTERESTING

  1. EXCELLENT – and it was an invigorating read.
  2. GREAT – and it was an absorbing read.
  3. GOOD – and it was a interesting read.
  4. AVERAGE – and it was a satisfying read.

(C) SPELLING AND GRAMMAR

  1. EXCELLENT – Moreover, if there were any spelling or grammar mistakes they were undetectable to me.
  2. GREAT – Moreover, it was well constructed and presented apart from one [spelling/grammar] mistake.
  3. GOOD – Moreover, while there were some [spelling/grammar] mistakes they did not detract significantly from the reading experience.
  4. AVERAGE –. However, I believe that the spelling and grammar should be corrected.
(D) SPEED
  1. EXCELLENT – [Author's surname]’s engaged a graceful writing style
  2. GREAT – [Author's surname]’s engaged a polished  writing style
  3. GOOD – [Author's surname] engaged a smooth writing style
  4. AVERAGE – [Author's surname]‘s writing style was acceptable
(E) CLEVER
  1. EXCELLENT – with the [sharp/clever/witty/graphical] inclusions bringing a real effervescence to the reading experience.
  2. GREAT –  with the [sharp/clever/witty/graphical] inclusions making for a delightful reading experience.
  3. GOOD –  with the [sharp/clever/witty/graphical] inclusions adding significantly to the reader interest.
  4. AVERAGE – with the [sharp/clever/witty/graphical] inclusions being satisfactorily handled.
(F) ACCURATE
  1. EXCELLENT – I am [very, reasonably, quite] knowledgeable about this subject and believe that the content was without fault.
  2. GREAT – I am [very, reasonably, quite] knowledgeable about this subject and I am in general agreement with all the Author’s stated positions.
  3. GOOD – I am [very, reasonably, quite] knowledgeable about this subject and find no issue with the content.
  4. AVERAGE – I am [very, reasonably, quite] knowledgeable about this subject and some question remain concerning some of the Author’s statements.
(G) USEFUL
  1. EXCELLENT – [and/but] it was totally relevant and applicable to me.
  2. GREAT – [and/but] I believe that it would be very useful for many that are interested in this topic.
  3. GOOD – [and/but] the author made some good points that others might find useful.
  4. AVERAGE – [and/but] the author makes a good point about [.............].
(H) OVERALL
  1. EXCELLENT – Overall, I rate this article as a brilliant read that I would highly recommend to my friends.
  2. GREAT – Overall, I would rate this article as a great read of high merit.
  3. GOOD – Overall, I would rate this article as a good and worthwhile read.
  4. AVERAGE – Overall, I would rate this article as an acceptable read.
———————- stop copy and paste just above here —————————

6. Step Five – Compile: Complete/Remove/Make/Link/Adjust

Now turn the individual components of an article review into a complete paragraph by doing the following:
      • Complete the opening sentence “This article titled ‘[Article Title], written by the [Author's stated role] [Author's published name or username], sets out to show [Central theme, argument or message]
      • Remove the NUMBER and GRADE from the front of the ‘standard phrase’
      • Make the applicable choice in the [square brackets] when asked
      • Link the ‘standard phrases together to form sentences and then complete the paragraph
      • Adjust the grammar and phrasing to suit your style of expression (if required)

7. Final Step – Place and Publish

Now copy and paste (CTRL-C and CTRL-V) from the review document into the comment or article review section provided at the online writing community.  At sites like Scribd.com and Hubpages.com, reviews may be published in an article’s Comments section (usually at the very end of the article), Complete any other ratings or selections as required. Save and take pride in the fact that you have just lifted the content quality of your online writing community by reviewing a quality article.

And, it’s highly recommended that you use the other rating tools provided. For example, at Scribd, you can Like and article (and unlike it if you later change your mind); you may also Add to Favorities (creates a mini-database that makes finding the article a snap in the future); and Download it in native format (e.g., a Scribd presentation won’t have active links, but the downloaded actual PowerPoint file will).
Congratulations, you’ve made a start, a contribution toward higher quality content for your community. You are armed with the tools to do more good by quickly reviewing quality articles for your online publishing communities that are adding value to your life. You are helping accelerate the taking out of the trash.

Examples

This article titled “Review of How to Write a Great First CV (Resume)”, written by the Lecturer in Computing Norman Creaney, sets out to detail the steps you will need in order to write an effective CV in the most efficient way. The author’s line of reasoning was crystal clear and it was a interesting read. Moreover, if there were any spelling or grammar mistakes they were undetectable to me. Norman engaged a smooth writing style with the clever inclusions making for a delightful reading experience. I am reasonably knowledgeable about this subject and I am in general agreement with all the Author’s stated positions. I believe that this article would be very useful for many people that are interested in this topic and overall, I would rate it as a great read of high merit.

Advanced Techniques

This article has been written as a “Paint by Numbers” guide to help encourage first time reviewers at least make a start. If continued, this helps online writing communities weed out spam, plagiarism and low quality content by a process of ONLY reviewing quality articles. Once you’ve used the standard phrasing a few times, you will want to customize to suit your language style and expression. After several reviews, you’ll be a natural.
If you wish to become an even more valuable member of your writing community and a greater supporter of your article writing friends and peers, then you will want to continue to develop your article review skills, possibly becoming a respected and sought-after critic. Listed below are some sites that can help.

Going Forward

Your authors have benefited from a dose of creative juice in the preparation of this article. One of the ideas — a genuine light bulb of an idea — is to make the Impressions Table into an article quality value generator. By assigning numbers to each box in the table’s matrix, an article can receive a numerical rating normalized to global education systems (where 100 = A+). If you love, like or hate the idea, please chime in with a comment.

Another idea is to come up with a reward system for reviewers, to encourage readers like yourself to generate reviews ranging from the simple five-star vote, to quick and simple narrative as we advocate in this article, to more advanced and scholarly. Make a noise in comments about this, please. Tell us what constitutes a reward? Is it recognition of citizenship in our meritocracy? Is it an i-Pod or G-phone or Starbucks coupons?

Acknowledgements

[1] Adapted from the Youngbloods “Get Together”, whose refrain goes:>
C’mon people now,
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try and love one another right now
The original draft was prepared by Peter Baskerville. Co-author Murry Shohat came aboard to provide copy editing and add expanded content to help extend the article’s metaphor about quality to just about any Internet publishing site that empowers readers to rate content. Together, Peter and Murry strongly support an open source publishing environment that encourages users to participate in voluntary content validation. Although Peter and Murry are oceans apart (Peter in Brisbane, Australia is 18 hours ahead of Murry in Roseville, California), their collaboration is testament to the web’s cybernetic power.
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