CSC290 Communication Skills for Computer Scientists

Fall 2018

Blog Posts
Critical Reviews

Critical Review Articles

In this assignment, you will be critically evaluating two articles that we select. Each critical review should be 600-800 words in length. The reviews should be written in a more formal style than the blog posts, and you will be required to cite additional sources.

See More information will be discussed in lectures and tutorials.

Your TAs will provide detailed feedback on your first critical review article. You will be required to make edits to your work based on the feedback, and submit your edits. Your ability to learn from feedback will be evaluated.

This assignment is divided into three portions:

 WorthDue DateArticle
Critical Review Article 18%Due Sep 30, 8:59pmEvaluating the Demand for Soft Skills in Software Development
Critical Review Article Edit2%Due Oct 28, 8:59pm
Critical Review Article 210%Due Dec 2, 8:59pmTBD

Critical Review #1


Submit your work to Quercus (not MarkUs!) before the deadline.

Your submission must be a MS Word document. We will be using the "track changes" feature for the critical review edits portion of the assignment. If you do not have MS Word, you can download the software from here.

You are welcome to post your critical review article to your blog. However, please wait two days after the submission deadline.


Do NOT assume that the person reading your review has read the article. Part of the exercise is to demonstrate your ability to summarize the key points of information.

Remember that you are writing a critical review of the text, not arguing the topic of the article.

The target audience for your paper is the informed public including your instructor, your TA, and your peers.


You will need to use at least one additional source to support your analysis. Please cite any sources, including the text that you are reviewing, in the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) format. Refer to

You can also consult your TA, the Librarians, or the Academic Skills Centre for additional assistance. If you do, bring a copy of the ACM Reference Format link, since the ACM citation style is unique to Computer Science and Engineering disciplines.


Please following the formatting guidelines below:

  • Use Arial font size 11, single-spaced.
  • Do not include a title page.
  • Include at least one additional source to support your analysis
  • At the end of your critical review document, you must paste the following declaration and type your name in the blank to signify your agreement:
    I, NAME, declare that the attached assignment is my own work, except where I have appropriately cited the original source, in accordance with the UofT academic code of conduct as linked on integrity/code-behaviour-academic-matters). This assignment has not previously been submitted for assessment in this or any other course.


You should carefully read the rubric before starting.

Critical Review #1 Rubric (pdf)


Why are we writing a critical review?

A critical review shows that you:

  • understand main points of text
  • can effectively summarize information
  • can evaluate information using valid, clear and interesting criteria
  • can write in a clear and focused manner
  • can read “critically” and recognize bias

In industry, you may find yourself attending a meeting on behalf of your manager. After the meeting you would likely have to report to your manager with a summary of what the meeting was about, the highlights of the important points of discussion, and your thoughts on the meeting or the issue the meeting was about.

You can be tasked with researching a product/solution for a less technical manager. You would have to summarize what the solution does, and the key functionalities of the solution along with how each of those key functionalities meets or does not meet the company's identified needs.

The critical review helps give you practice for these tasks while working on your writing skills.

What happens if we go over or under the word limit stated in the assignment?

The 600-800 word length specification gives you a sense of how much work is required; it is not a strict limit. Your critical review can be somewhat shorter or longer than the specified length, but should not be too far off; falling very short or going on at great length tends to mean you’ve done either too little or too much, or have failed to be succinct.