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.
a critique is typically
a short written description of the key contributions and
weaknesses of a paper, and why you think so.
should address several or possibly all
of the following:
what is the one most important point of the paper?
arguments for why the work is notable or novel or neither,
if the problem the paper tackles is important and or not,
- if the
proposed solution is potentially useful or not,
- are the assumptions clearly specified and are they
reasonable and practically valid,
- point out additional contexts where the same
or technology could be applied, relate the work to another
paper that you find during your literature search,
have the proposed ideas been evaluated in some form, how,
and how thorough is that evaluation,
a list of possible future research tasks to make the proposed
work even better, develop a different solution strategy,
or to drop some of the given assumptions, and so on.
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
But everyone must write up and hand in their own critique.
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
in the sense of discussing the papers together.
In fact, I highly encourage you to discuss the papers with other
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.