CS 561 - Written Critiques

You will write brief critical evaluations, so called critiques, of some of the readings that we are to discuss in class to prepare yourself for the class discussions. Critiques are a short (typically one to 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 pages long) writeup of the day's reading. They will be due at the start of the class in hardcopy. However, you'll want to bring 2 copies so that you have your critique in front of you during our discussion of the material (it will serve as your cheat-sheet, if you will, to remind you for your own thoughts). Critiques may be worked on in a group of more than one student attending the class; in the sense of discussing the papers together and together deciding what the main points of the paper are, if you wish. But everyone must write up and hand in their own critique, which reflects their understanding of the reading.

Why critiques.

First and foremost the critiques are for you, namely, for you to prepare yourself for class discussions.

Hence, critiques may be worked on in a group of two or more students; thus allowing you to discuss the papers together already before class. In fact, I highly encourage you to discuss the papers with your student colleagues.

When you study the assigned reading, make a list of the points you find particularly confusing, ambiguous, interesting, controversial, etc., and make sure to bring those up in class. This could in some cases be part of your critique as well (but don't make that the only content :).

In general, I will ask you for your input on the points you wrote down so that you can discuss them in class. Thus your critique and more should be in your "head", as well as in paper on front of you when you arrive in class.

Grading of critiques.

All assigned critiques will be collected by the instructor (to verify that you did them). However only a subset of the critiques may actually be graded. You will not know beforehand if or if not a critique is graded; so to encourage you to do a quality job on all of them :)

The grading scale will be:

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 word for word.

Note: If you are the presenter of the given reading for that day, then of cause you do not also need be preparing a critic of the paper you are in charge of. You instead will be preparing talk slides (see student presentations).