How to Write an Article Review in Philosophy for College Level

Writing guide
Posted on January 30, 2020

A review of a journal article is one of the common tasks that college and university students get regularly, including philosophy classes. Reviewing an article is an important assignment because it teaches you to analyze, criticize and evaluate the works written by philosophy experts, as well as to follow certain standards and conventions.

An article review in philosophy consists of a short summary of the main ideas and a critique with supporting arguments that prove the usefulness of the article to the other philosophy experts.

Do You Have a Plan?

In case with the philosophy subject, you have to know exactly what your review is going to cover. This is because it is important to know what issues from the article are the most important and interesting to your readers.

The outline of a standard article review in philosophy goes like this:

  • Article summary with the most important claims, facts and points.
  • Positive features. The strong points discussed by the author of the article and the strongest parts of his or her work.
  • Negative issues. Highlight the gaps of facts, materials, inconsistencies of any kind, the questions that remain unanswered and so on.

Make sure to collect the sources that you will check in the process of writing. There are many different source on the internet today such as Nautilus, Philosophy Bro, Philosophy Stack Exchange, The American Philosophical Association, In Socrates’ Wake that will help you to ensure that the information in article is accurate and find the definitions of the most difficult terms in philosophy and related sciences. Don’t skip an opportunity to use printed materials as well because there are many books and journals that can’t be found anywhere on the web.

Who Are Your Readers?

When you write a review of an article written in the field of philosophy, it is important to keep in mind your readers. Knowing who is going to read your paper will guide your entire writing process. Ponder over how diverse is the background knowledge that your readers have about the topic and philosophy in general. Fortunately, with article reviews, your readers usually are people who have strong knowledge and expertise in philosophy and your topic. Thus, you don’t have to do any additional research. Nonetheless, it will be wise to make use of terminology that your readers are aware of.

Read the Article Attentively and Take Notes

Actually, you will have to read the article several times. When you do the first reading, you will have to highlight everything that you don’t understand and write down your first thoughts and impressions about it. Was there anything surprising or unsurprising? What is it that you especially liked about the article? Was there anything that you didn’t like? Once you’re done with this part, it is time to read up all the text elements that were unclear in order to be more prepared for the next reading. Take notes and find answers to any questions that appeared after the first stage of reading. It is especially recommended to take notes of everything that is critical about the article because you will later discuss that when writing your review.

Write down a Brief Summary of the Article

The process of writing a summary of the philosophy article includes synthesizing of your own understanding of the written work. Once you feel you get the general idea of the article, ensure to write down a short summary that contains one paragraph. Don’t mind the mistakes – you will correct them later. The summary writing has several purposes. First of all, when you summarize the article, you synthesize your own understanding of the article and philosophy. Second of all, your summary proves that you have spent enough time in order to understand both – the topic and the field in general.

What are the Positive Areas of the Article?

Right under your summary, dwell upon the positive issues of the article. It is important to write the comments that are as specific as possible. For instance:

  • ‘On page 3 the author of the article makes a clear and logical transition between the core of the manuscript and the conclusions.’
  • ‘My overall impression of the article is that it is written by an expert in philosophy, who knows how to compare works of Aristotle and Kant.’
  • ‘In the second half of the work, its author describes all the arguments in a logical order that is the most suitable in this case and I am going to go back to it in my review later.’
  • ‘The article conclusion is comprehensive and proves the author’s substantive knowledge of philosophy.’

What are the Areas that Require Improvement?

Once you have written the positive comments, it’s time to focus on the article parts that need improvement. Make sure to provide only specific and clear recommendations using simple descriptions or lists. Don’t write in vague language or use claims that have no basis in reality.

  • give a range of suggestions in order to solve the problems;
  • give citations that will help to make the changes;
  • give your personal suggestions for how to use and analyze the existing information regarding the topic;
  • talk about the best ways to identify the study limitations;
  • suggest some ideas or rephrasing in order to improve clarity and readability of the article.

What is Your Judgement of the Article?

Writing your judgements or critique means talking about how well the author of the written work addresses a particular topic in philosophy. If, for instance, the article that you’re reviewing is ‘Nihilism and the Meaning of Life’ written by James Tartaglia, tell your readers if the writer did his best to prove the importance of nihilism in the field of philosophy of life. Specify the importance and the contributions of the article to the field of philosophy. Provide the main points and argument in the article. In the case with ‘Nihilism and the Meaning of Life’ written by James Tartaglia, the main points will be the following:

  • the life of human beings has no meaning; however, it doesn’t usually seem like that for the reason that our social understanding of the world draws our attentions on our goals;
  • there are different mechanisms of intellectual defense that the philosophers of the twentieth century devised in order to deal with nihilism;
  • today people tend to make their own meaning; however, social meaning is a completely different thing;
  • philosophy-skepticism is considered an annoying and dumb meme that modern philosophers tend to take too seriously.

What is more, you will have to tell your target readers if the points that the author includes helped you in the argument. Specify if you found any biases. Also, don’t hesitate to inform your readers if you agree or disagree with the author of the article. If you do agree with him or her, make sure to tell why exactly you support these points of view. If you don’t share his or her opinion, aslo specify why your decision is completely different. Find out what kind of audience will like the content of the article and even benefit from it.
Make sure to provide your personal point of view on how useful and clear the explanation of ‘nihilism’ you found in the article is.

What Conclusions Can You Draw?

After everything is done, you have to summarize the main points of the article that you review. In a paragraph, you have to also give your point of view on the clarity, importance and accuracy of the article. If possible, make some suggestions for the future research in the field of philosophy. If you’re reviewing the article “Living in the Frame: Meaning on Loan from Nihilism” written by Alan Malachowski, you might mention the implications for further discussion that include potential research on Nietzsche’s belief that nihilism is ultimately beneficial because it opens up possibilities for fresh values.

  • Don’t write the conclusion that takes more than 10% of the whole article review.
  • For instance: ‘This critical review has analyzed the article “How Human Life Could be Unintended but Meaningful: A Reply to Tartaglia” written by Brooke Alan Trisel. The main theme and the arguments in the article demonstrate the presence of prejudice and bias, as well as the usage of statistics that aren’t supported with strong evidence. This kind of misinformation weakens the arguments of the author and lowers the credibility of his work’.

What are the Required Formats?

In your article review in Philosophy, you will have to use one of the existing formats. Check your professor’s instructions to make sure you use the correct one. Is it the APA format? If yes, then you will be asked to provide bibliographical entry for every source that you use:

  • Newspapers: Ronalds, A. K. (2017, July). Nothing but Nihilism? The Spirit of Purposelessness in James Tartaglia’s Philosophy in a Meaningless Life. Philosophical Life, pp. 50-69.
  • Journal: Ronalds, A. K. (2017). Nothing but Nihilism? The Spirit of Purposelessness in James Tartaglia’s Philosophy in a Meaningless Life. Journal of Philosophy of Life, Vol.7, 50-69.
  • Web: Ronalds, A. K. (2017, July). Nothing but Nihilism? The Spirit of Purposelessness in James Tartaglia’s Philosophy in a Meaningless Life. Retrieved from

If you should use MLA format, make sure your sources look like this:

  • Newspaper: Ronalds, A. “Nothing but Nihilism? The Spirit of Purposelessness in James Tartaglia’s Philosophy in a Meaningless Life.” Pittsburgh Press 7 Mar. 2017: A4. Print.
  • Journal: Ronalds, A. “Nothing but Nihilism? The Spirit of Purposelessness in James Tartaglia’s Philosophy in a Meaningless Life.” Emerging Philosophy Theories, vol. 52 (2016): 23. Philosophy Source Education. Web. Accessed 27 Jun. 2016.
  • Web: Ronalds, A. “Nothing but Nihilism? The Spirit of Purposelessness in James Tartaglia’s Philosophy in a Meaningless Life.” Philosophy of Life. Project of Philosophy and Contemporary Society, 26 June 2018. Web. Accessed 27 Jun. 2016.

Are there Any Mistakes in Your Article Review?

Nobody can write a high quality article review on the first try. Even the most famous and talented writers make mistakes! If possible, make sure to put your article review aside for some time. After this, take a fresh look at it and read it attentively. At this stage, you have to pay special attention to all sorts of errors – style, punctuation, spelling, grammar.

Besides, you have to make sure that all the terms that you used in your review as well as data are accurate and respond to reality.
What is more, you have to make sure that your review doesn’t include unnecessary or irrelevant information. Keep in mind that in your paper you are supposed to discuss no less than four or five issues.

If you still have doubts on whether you can write an article review in philosophy, you can rely upon our article review writing services to assist you with providing a high-quality paper. The writers that we have employed are experienced and have years of review writing background.

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