CS 561 - Written Critiques

You will write critical evaluations, so called critiques, of a subset of the readings that we are to discuss in class. Critiques are a short (typically one and ideally at most two pages long) writeup of the day's reading, which will be due at the start of the class.

What is a critique.

The critique should not be a mere summary of the material. Rather, a critique is typically a short written description of the key contributions and weaknesses of a paper, and why you think so. A critique should address several or possibly all of the following:

In some cases, I may pose a question or a problem for you to answer in your critique related to the reading in order to help you organize your thoughts. However, part of writing a good critique is first for you to figure out what are good questions to ask yourself about the reading, then to explicitly pose your own questions, and then answering them one by one.

What you need to do.

Critiques are a short (one or two page) writeup of the day's reading. They will be due at the start of the class. Critiques may be worked on in a group of two or more students; in the sense of discussing the papers together and together deciding what the main points of the paper are. But everyone must write up and hand in their own critique.

Why critiques.

Writing the critique will prepare you for the class discussion. So first and foremost the critiques are for you, to get your prepared for class discussions. Hence, critiques may be worked on in a group of two or more students; in the sense of discussing the papers together. In fact, I highly encourage you to discuss the papers with other student colleagues. When you study the assigned reading, make a list of the points you find particularly confusing, ambiguous, interesting, controversial, etc., and also bring those up in class. This could be part of your critique. In general, I will ask you for your input on these points you wrote down so that you can discuss them in class. Thus your critique and more should be in your "head" and not just on paper when you arrive in class.

Grading of critiques.

All assigned critiques will be collected by the instructor, however only some of the critiques may be graded. You will not know beforehand if or if not a critique is graded, so you better do a thorough job on all of them.

The grading scale will be 0 (not handed in), check minus minus (a very weak effort), check minus (a minimal effort critic), check (demonstrates reasonable critical understanding of material), check plus (demonstrates excellent evaluation of material), check plus plus (very nice insights and independent critical thoughts). So we have a range from 0 to 5.

No late critiques will be accepted - as we will be discussing the material in class that very day. Also, do see the note on plagerism, and refrain from for example copying the abstract or summary from the paper directly into your critique.