Analyzing Journal Articles & Essays
Below are some questions to help
you begin analyzing a journal article or essay. Your analysis may not contain
comments on every question below. Instead, select a few questions as the basis
of the ideas which will lead to a detailed and interesting analysis of an
article or essay.
1. EXAMINE THE TITLE
- What does the author tell you in the
- Information? Does it suggest the
topic or main idea?
- Description? Does it merely imply the
- Attention catcher? Does it arouse
- Is the title
- Does the title indicate the author's
attitude toward the subject?
2. IDENTIFY THE MAIN IDEA
- Is the first paragraph introductory or
does it contain a general statement of the main idea?
- Where is the main idea?
- In the first paragraph?
- Is chronological order used?
- In the body or middle?
- Does this add interest? confusion?
- Does this give the reader more time
to reject/accept the author's main idea?
- At the end?
- Does this add suspense?
- Does this clarify details?
- Does this cause lack of interest?
- Is the main idea implied only?
- Could the main idea escape the reader
- Was the main idea stated in more than
- Was the main idea stated or suggested?
- Was the placement of the main idea the
best arrangement for the article/essay?
- What are the advantages/disadvantages
in such an arrangement?
- Did the author adhere to and support
the main idea?
- Was the main idea supported with
examples, details, anecdotes, narratives, and/or other support methods?
3. ANALYZE THE STRUCTURE
- Can you identify a definite plan of
organization (for example, beginning, body, ending)?
- Did the author
- Analyze the subject matter?
- Categorize the material?
- Chronologically develop ideas?
- Contrast and compare?
- Use a combination of any of these?
- Is the structure clear and logical?
- Are the transitional phrases/words
adequate to keep the reader in command?
- Does the author have logical support
for ideas? Does the author use
- Too many generalizations?
- Mistakes in logic?
- Evidence to support claims?
- How does the author add interest and
variety? Does the author use
- Anecdotes, incidents, conversations?
- Descriptive or narrative materials?
- Actual situations or definite places?
- Is the ending
- As effective as the beginning?
- Interchangeable with the beginning?
- A restatement of a high point?
- A weaving together of threads of ideas
with in the article/essay?
- A "driving home" of the main
4. EVALUATE THE ARTICLE'S/ESSAY'S STYLE (THE
ADAPTATION OF ONE'S IDEAS TO ONE'S LANGUAGE)
- What is the author's personality in
- Are individual situations or
overall ideas stressed?
- Does the author's background
influence the article/essay?
- What is the author's point of view?
- What techniques are used to produce
- Technical words
- Allusions to unknown works
- Descriptive or unusual inversions
- Forceful or weak words
- Imagery and figurative language?