How to Write Critical Reviews

When you are asked to write a critical review of a book or article, you will need to identify, summarize, and evaluate the ideas and information the author has presented. In other words, you will be examining another person’s thoughts on a topic from your point of view.

Your stand must go beyond your “gut reaction” to the work and be based on your knowledge (readings, lecture, experience) of the topic as well as on factors such as criteria stated in your assignment or discussed by you and your instructor.

Make your stand clear at the beginning of your review, in your evaluations of specific parts, and in your concluding commentary.

Remember that your goal should be to make a few key points about the book or article, not to discuss everything the author writes.

Understanding the Assignment

To write a good critical review, you will have to engage in the mental processes of analyzing (taking apart) the work–deciding what its major components are and determining how these parts (i.e., paragraphs, sections, or chapters) contribute to the work as a whole.

Analyzing the work will help you focus on how and why the author makes certain points and prevent you from merely summarizing what the author says. Assuming the role of an analytical reader will also help you to determine whether or not the author fulfills the stated purpose of the book or article and enhances your understanding or knowledge of a particular topic.

Be sure to read your assignment thoroughly before you read the article or book. Your instructor may have included specific guidelines for you to follow. Keeping these guidelines in mind as you read the article or book can really help you write your paper!

Also, note where the work connects with what you’ve studied in the course. You can make the most efficient use of your reading and notetaking time if you are an active reader; that is, keep relevant questions in mind and jot down page numbers as well as your responses to ideas that appear to be significant as you read.

Please note: The length of your introduction and overview, the number of points you choose to review, and the length of your conclusion should be proportionate to the page limit stated in your assignment and should reflect the complexity of the material being reviewed as well as the expectations of your reader.

Write the introduction

Below are a few guidelines to help you write the introduction to your critical review.

Introduce your review appropriately

Begin your review with an introduction appropriate to your assignment.

If your assignment asks you to review only one book and not to use outside sources, your introduction will focus on identifying the author, the title, the main topic or issue presented in the book, and the author’s purpose in writing the book.

If your assignment asks you to review the book as it relates to issues or themes discussed in the course, or to review two or more books on the same topic, your introduction must also encompass those expectations.

Explain relationships

For example, before you can review two books on a topic, you must explain to your reader in your introduction how they are related to one another.

Within this shared context (or under this “umbrella”) you can then review comparable aspects of both books, pointing out where the authors agree and differ.

In other words, the more complicated your assignment is, the more your introduction must accomplish.

Finally, the introduction to a book review is always the place for you to establish your position as the reviewer (your thesis about the author’s thesis).

As you write, consider the following questions:

Provide an overview

In your introduction, you will also want to provide an overview. An overview supplies your reader with certain general information not appropriate for including in the introduction but necessary to understanding the body of the review.

Generally, an overview describes your book’s division into chapters, sections, or points of discussion. An overview may also include background information about the topic, about your stand, or about the criteria you will use for evaluation.

The overview and the introduction work together to provide a comprehensive beginning for (a “springboard” into) your review.

Write the body

The body is the center of your paper, where you draw out your main arguments. Below are some guidelines to help you write it.

Organize using a logical plan

Organize the body of your review according to a logical plan. Here are two options:

Questions to keep in mind as you write

With either organizational pattern, consider the following questions:

Keep your opinions distinct and cite your sources

Remember, as you discuss the author’s major points, be sure to distinguish consistently between the author’s opinions and your own.

Keep the summary portions of your discussion concise, remembering that your task as a reviewer is to re-see the author’s work, not to re-tell it.

And, importantly, if you refer to ideas from other books and articles or from lecture and course materials, always document your sources, or else you might wander into the realm of plagiarism.

Include only that material which has relevance for your review and use direct quotations sparingly. The Writing Center has other handouts to help you paraphrase text and introduce quotations.

Write the conclusion

You will want to use the conclusion to state your overall critical evaluation.

You have already discussed the major points the author makes, examined how the author supports arguments, and evaluated the quality or effectiveness of specific aspects of the book or article.

Now you must make an evaluation of the work as a whole, determining such things as whether or not the author achieves the stated or implied purpose and if the work makes a significant contribution to an existing body of knowledge.

Consider the following questions:

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Q: What does it mean if the status has been changing between 'Under review' and 'Assigning for review'?

After submission, the status first indicated that the editor has been assigned. Then, it turned to ‘Under review,’ which I thought was the internal review. Two days later, it changed to ‘Assigning for review.’ One week later, it was ‘Under review.’ (Note that ‘r’ was not capitalized.) What does this imply? Then, another week later, it turned to ‘Assigning for Review.’ It has been one month since then. Does this sound normal? Shall I write to the journal to inquire?

Asked on 27 Mar, 2020

I can understand your perplexity. I myself found the changes between the two statuses a bit difficult to follow at first read, and had to go through the query a second time to gauge what’s (probably) been happening. It felt like watching a table tennis ball during a long rally!

Anyway, coming to your query, firstly, I don’t believe the difference between ‘r’ and ‘R’ in ‘r/Review’ is anything significant. The two casings for ‘r’ may be due to an internal input difference at the time of creating the statuses in the system. However, if the two casings do indeed mean different statuses, ‘Under review’ could mean the internal review (by the associate editor) and ‘Under Review’ could mean the external review (by the peer reviewers). Again, though, it is unlikely the journal would have created such a subtle differentiation between the two statuses.  ‘Under r/Review’ here, as in most cases, probably means the article has been sent for peer review.

What would be of greater interest (or concern) to you is the back and forth between ‘Under r/Review’ and ‘Assigning for r/Review.’ This is probably happening because the journal editor has been identifying and assigning suitable peer reviewers, but each time, they have been declining, perhaps due to challenges of time or conflicts of interest. The present status of ‘Assigning for Review,’ which has remained for a month, probably means the editor is still looking for reviewers for your manuscript.

As you have suggested, you could indeed write to the editor inquiring about the back and forth of the statuses. Additionally, if you do know of suitable reviewers for your paper, and if the journal allows this, you may suggest these names to the editor. Even if these don’t work out, the editor is likely to appreciate your keen gesture. In a worst case, if the journal is really not able to find suitable reviewers, you may consider withdrawing your manuscript and submitting to another journal, whether a related one from the same publisher or from another publisher.

All the best. Hopefully, the situation will get resolved soon.

You may also find the following resources helpful.

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Answered by Editage Insights on 29 Mar, 2020

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6 Email Templates to Use When Asking for Reviews

More than 90% of customers read reviews before making a purchasing decision. This means most of your potential sales are at the mercy of what former customers say about your products or services.

Unfortunately, study after study has concluded that an unhappy customer is more likely to leave a review than a happy customer. The web has many more Simon Cowells than Paula Abduls – especially if you’re a brand. People expect satisfaction when they pay for something. If they don’t get it, you and all your potential customers will hear about it.

In a world where gratification is often expressed through silence, you’ll need a tactful way of asking your customers to speak up about what you’re doing right.

Enter the review request campaign.

Let’s walk through the basics of a feedback request, and take a close look at some of the very best email templates asking for reviews.

When to Request Reviews

The success of a review request campaign hinges upon seizing the most opportune moment to ask for a customer review. Here are 5 of them:

What Channels to Refer Reviewers To

Think about which of your brand’s online channels will benefit most from a positive review. Is it directly on a product page on your site? Is it in a niche industry forum? The Better Business Bureau?

Here are a few examples of some of the most prominent review destinations across the web:

Amazon and other third-party seller sites

If you’re a B2C e-commerce company that generates most of its sales through Amazon, then make an Amazon review request the default for your company. The same applies for Etsy, eBay, Overstock and other e-commerce platforms. Third-party platforms are a great source of revenue for many businesses, and great online reviews can help accelerate purchasing.

Your own website

Alternatively, if you have an e-commerce store that doesn’t sell on third-party sites, encourage customers to leave a product review directly on your product pages. A B2B company can also use its website or blog to publish a customer testimonial, a case study, quotes from satisfied customers or all of these. For highly niche B2B verticals, targeted outreach to specific satisfied customers requesting a positive testimonial may be the only way to generate social proof, and your business page might be the only place to promote those positive reviews.

B2B review sites

A less niche B2B company may want to direct review traffic to another source. For example, a CRM company will benefit from user reviews on or TrustRadius .

Companies with a local presence – both B2B and B2C – should set themselves up on Google My Business (GMB) to manage their Google reviews and ratings. The overwhelming majority of web traffic occurs through search engines, meaning the first reviews that a potential customer searching for a local business will see are directly on Google.

assigning for review

Optimizing a GMB profile is also essential for local search engine optimization purposes. It helps ensure that your company is listed in Google under the correct business name, with the right hours, address and other details.

Other business directories

These might include:

How to Request Reviews (+ Email Templates)

You need to make it as easy as possible for customers to leave a review – or for that matter, provide any sort of feedback that could help your business improve.

Someone who wants to throw a tantrum on the internet will actively seek out the biggest audience for their tirade. But a delighted customer will only give you an attaboy if it doesn’t take very much time out of their day.

Start by including a “review us” link in the email signature of any transactional emails, customer service emails, etc. The recipient need only click this link to be taken to a review platform of your choice.

Also consider leaving a “review us” or “provide feedback” form on your contact us page to solicit feedback. If you offer online support, you can link to this page, or another review channel, after each interaction.

Even then, you’ll need to reach out to customers to encourage them to offer feedback, leave a review or speak positively on behalf of your brand. And there’s no better way to do that than via email.

When the time is right, use one of the email templates below to ask for a review, rating, feedback, testimonial or referral:

For a product review

Email subject line: Don’t forget to leave a review

Hi [First name],

Our customers rely on reviews from insightful people such as yourself to decide which of our products and services is right for them.

If you have a moment to spare, please click on the button below to tell us if you’re enjoying your [product name].

Rate it or review it.

And as always, thank you for choosing [your brand or company name].

[Sender name]

For a one-time B2B or B2C service

Email subject line: How did we do?

Thanks for choosing us to [service you provide]. We appreciate your trust in us and value your business.

If you were happy with our services, please take a moment to leave a review on [platform of your choice].

It would mean the world to us.

Until next time,

For a hotel, spa or salon

Email subject line: Was it as nice for you as it was for us?

Of all the [business types] in [your location], you chose ours. That makes us feel pretty darn special.

But we want to know: Did we return the favor?

Leave a review on [preferred platform] and let us know how your [service type] experience with [company name] went.

We read all of our feedback and take it to heart so that we can continue to improve on our [service type].

For a survey feedback request

Email subject line: Tell us how we’re doing in a brief survey

At [company name], we’re always trying to improve our [list your type of product service]. And we can’t do it without your honest feedback.

Please take a moment to fill out our brief survey. (I promise, it’ll only take a minute.) Pull no punches. We want the good, the bad and the ugly.

Complete the survey.

For a testimonial request

Email subject line: A case study/ testimonial featuring [client name]

Hi [First name]

I hope you and yours are well!

I’m reaching out because I was taking a look at some of the work we’ve been doing with you (thanks again for choosing us!), and was wondering if you would be open to us creating a [case study or testimonial]. I was hoping to [write up a piece/ create a video] about what we’ve been working on with you and incorporate some of your feedback and/or results.

Would you kindly respond back letting us know if:

Thank you so much!

For a B2B referral request

Email subject line: Request for a potential referral

I first want to thank you again for choosing us for your [service or product type] needs. We’re so glad that we’ve been able to exceed your expectations.

And, in fact, I’m reaching out because I was wondering if you would be willing to vouch for us to a potential prospect we’ve been in contact with. All we need from you is to complete the [form, survey, attached document, etc.] and return it to us.

We would really appreciate the help if you have the time, but totally understand if not. Either way, we look forward to doing more great work for you.

email template asking for reviews FEATURE

A Few Best Practices for Email Requests

Short, concise emails are always better – especially if you’re just asking for a general product rating or review.

The only exception is a testimonial request email, which will need to be much more personalized if you’re hoping to get a specific individual to speak on behalf of your brand.

Otherwise, here a few other general pointers to keep in mind in with any review request email you write:

How to Respond to Bad Reviews

Ask and you shall receive. But beware: You won’t always like what you receive.

When a dissatisfied customer expresses their ire, you can soften the blow to your reputation with a diplomatic, well-meaning response.

Approximately 84% of potential customers will read a business’s response to a bad review. The goal here isn’t to be combative or to make excuses. Rather, a response to a bad review achieves two goals:

Here is a potential template you can use to respond to a negative review or social media comment:

Hi [customer’s name] – we’re sincerely sorry to hear that your experience with us hasn’t met your expectations. More importantly, we want to know more about your situation and figure out how we can make this right. Please [give us a call or email us ] at [insert phone number or email address] so we can discuss this together, and hopefully earn back your business.

Avoid using your own company name in your response if at all possible. You don’t want to bring any more attention to the negative review than you need to, and you want to minimize your brand’s association with bad feedback.

Also, remember that you can’t win them all. Some relationships won’t end well and, in many cases, it will be through no fault of your own.

As long as you actively focus on review generation, the positive feedback will always outshine the negative.

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By Dominick Sorrentino

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How to get more reviews online

5 Email Templates To Use When Asking For Reviews

You need more reviews for your business to be successful, so it makes sense to reach out and request them from customers.

And the most common way to request customer reviews is through email.

Emails, provided you collect your customers’ emails at some stage of doing business with them, are a great way to request reviews from your customers.

Emails are non-intrusive and come with the advantage of allowing you to direct customers to review sites with embedded links.

However you choose to go about it, the aim is to make the customer feel appreciated and valued in a way that persuades them to leave a review.

Email templates generally require time and effort to write and design, but they can simplify the process of asking your customers for an online review.

How Do You Write A Review Request Email?

Despite the manual work involved, writing a review request email presents you with different approaches. And once you have formulated your approach, you can create a template to send to all your customers.

In general, review request emails should meet the following criteria:

It’s common for review request emails to express how the customer’s review will help the business improve, but it must still be kept in mind that the focus should be put on the customer.

Ultimately, how you write a review request email template should reflect your brand voice with regard to your customer audience.

And here are five examples of email templates you can use with a short explanation of each approach.

1. Formal Email Templates

Formal email templates are commonly used by businesses.

But while this approach to review requests “plays it safe”, it can also come across as robotic and, as a result, indicate the obvious use of a template, which is less likely to engage customers and persuade them to leave a review.

“Hi [first name],

It was a pleasure doing business with you as one of our valued customers.

Leaving a review helps us to improve your experience and will not take much of your time. Please click this link to tell us what you think.

We thank you once again.

[business/manager name]”

2. Informal Email Templates

Taking a less formal approach to your review request email templates is generally more engaging than using a formal tone of voice.

Despite that, it’s important to make sure that the message comes across as friendly and cheerful and not sarcastic or frivolous.

“Hey [first name],

We love that you chose to do business with us. 

If you have a moment, it would make us really happy to hear your feedback by leaving a review – we promise it won’t take long!

Thank you and we hope to see you/deal with you again soon.

3. Simple/Graphic Email Templates 

Simple and minimalistic email templates focus on keeping the message short and to the point with a prominent “click here” button to convince customers to leave a review.

However, this kind of review request email is typically complemented by images/graphic illustrations to compensate for the lack of text.

As a result, this email template can require additional effort and knowledge to design.

“How did we do, [first name]?

Let us know by leaving a quick review!

Click the link/button below to tell us what you think.

[business name]”

4. Email Templates That Make An Appeal

This approach can be more effective than other email templates but requires more thought and attention to detail.

It focuses on appealing to customers’ subconscious desire to help or have their voice heard, which may persuade them to leave a review.

Your opinion matters and can help local businesses like ours to improve the service and experience we provide for valued customers like yourself.

With that said, we hope you can take a moment of your day to leave us a review. It only takes a few minutes and will help others to learn more about our service.

Thank you for being our customer.

5. Personalized Email Templates

This email template focuses on addressing the customer directly and personally, which can be more effective if the service was provided to the customer in person. It can refer to the specific product or service that was bought, but comes with the disadvantage that it can require editing the template for different customers.

Thank you for visiting/choosing us today to purchase [product name/service]. It was a pleasure meeting you/dealing with you and we hope you enjoyed the level of service you received.

So that we can improve our service for you next time, we would greatly appreciate it if you left a review telling us about your experience.

It won’t take much of your time and we thank you in advance.

[manager name]”

The Disadvantages Of Email Templates

It’s important to remember that templates are just guides that still need to be modified to some degree to reflect your business and customer audience.

Not every template will be effective for every customer, which is worth bearing in mind.

Review request email templates also involve time and effort to write and design.

And if you want to make your review request emails appear more professional, it will require some knowledge of coding and/or graphic illustration as well as responsive email design.

In addition, when you send your review request email is just as important as the template you choose to use.

Not only should review request emails be sent in a timely manner after a service has been provided, but at a convenient time when customers will be more inclined to fulfill your request, such as non-work hours and not too early or late in the day.

Lastly, email templates are only as effective as the system you use to collect emails. In general, sending emails frequently and in large numbers will require the help of email marketing software, which costs money.

Overall, the main disadvantage to using email templates to request reviews is that it involves a lot of manual effort.

The faster, more effective solution is to automate your review requests.

Automate Review Requests To Get More Reviews

Automate Review Requests To Get More Reviews

Email templates are not necessary if you automate your review requests. 

How? ReputationStacker takes care of it for you. And that means no need to choose an email template, write and design email templates, or manually send emails.

ReputationStacker is a hands-off service that handles review requests in a way that persuades your customers to leave a review.

The fully automated system makes this possible by sending your customers a single-question text or email asking about their experience, then directing them to the review sites of your choice to post a review.

So if you are tired of sending emails to get more reviews, ReputationStacker offers a solution that, just like the thousands of businesses that already use it, will benefit your business in more ways than one.

Ian Kirby

Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.

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  1. How to Write Critical Reviews

    Organize the body of your review according to a logical plan. Here are two options: First, summarize, in a series of paragraphs, those major points from the book that you plan to discuss; incorporating each major point into a topic sentence for a paragraph is an effective organizational strategy.

  2. Why is the review status going on switching between 'Under

    Reviewers usually back out due to unavailability (due to being busy with other work), a mismatch with the subject of the paper, or a conflict of interest. While these may very well be the reasons here, we believe it may rather be due to the approaching holiday period.

  3. What does it mean if the status has been changing between

    The present status of ‘Assigning for Review,’ which has remained for a month, probably means the editor is still looking for reviewers for your manuscript. As you have suggested, you could indeed write to the editor inquiring about the back and forth of the statuses.

  4. 6 Email Templates to Use When Asking for Reviews

    For a survey feedback request. Email subject line: Tell us how we’re doing in a brief survey. Hi [First name], At [company name], we’re always trying to improve our [list your type of product service]. And we can’t do it without your honest feedback. Please take a moment to fill out our brief survey.

  5. 5 Email Templates To Use When Asking For Reviews

    (1) Some journals carry an internal review firstly before sending the manuscript for external review. In this case, you will notice that the duration of Under Review is relatively short for...