Critique of Another Student’s Research Article

Critiques are designed to provide experience in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of another’s argument as well as constructive ways in which to offer criticism of someone else’s work. The project instructions provide detail guidelines on how to complete a critique, as well as several sample critiques from which to model submissions.

There are two primary components of your article critique: textual analysis and evaluation. An excellent critique will consider the questions/concepts detailed below.

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Analysis – these are the questions you need to be asking and taking note of while reading the article.

What is the author’s thesis? You have to identify their thesis directly.

What arguments does the author use in support of their thesis? You need to identify all

parts of the argument.

What evidence does the author present in support of the argument?

Evaluation – You will offer your appraisal of the author’s work based upon the following points.

Does the author offer an argumentative thesis that is related to the assigned prompt? You may wish to evaluate the degree to which the author’s submission accomplishes this goal.

Does the author offer a lucid, coherent argument in support of the thesis? You may wish to evaluate the degree to which the author’s submission accomplishes this goal.

Are the author’s facts accurate? Are there significant portions of this story that the author failed to address?

Is the evidence presented in support of the argument reliable? Does it demonstrate the author’s consideration of varying interpretations the event discussed?

Does the text present and refute opposing points of view?

What questions or observations does this article suggest? Does it point to areas for further



Critique of Kelly Greene’s “The Five Civilized Tribes and the Legacy of the Trail of Tears.”

Kelly Greene selected the “Five Civilized Tribes” topic and her article claims to explore the effects of the Trail of Tears upon members of the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles) who survived the forced march to Oklahoma. Her thesis claims that the Trail of Tears negatively affected those who participated in the trip. Though the thesis statement was easy to locate, it fails to meet the standards for a thesis outlined in the project instructions: it is not an argumentative statement because there is no point or argument to be made in relation to the event and it makes an obvious point that adds very little to a serious discussion on the effects of Andrew Jackson’s Indian removal policy (who would argue that something called the “Trail of Tears” was not a life altering experience?).

The lack of an argumentative thesis led to a disorganized article that fails to build a clear argument and makes several dubious claims. Greene, for example, explains the motivations for Indian Removal by stating that white settlers wanted Indian lands in the Southeast, but never explains why, except to say that the land was valuable and contained a bounty of wild game. Though Greene references the Indian Removal Act of 1830 in inaccurate claim that “English settlers” wanted the Indian lands, she offers no specific evidence from the Act to support her claim. She argues that the Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes agreed to “swap” their Eastern lands for those in the West, but gives little consideration to the fact that any negotiation between the federal government and the tribes was conducted under duress, a fact which invalidates the legitimacy of subsequent treaties. On the other hand, Greene’s reference to the Preemption Act of 1830, allowing white settlers to “squat” on Indian lands even before the Indians had been removed, did offer to support to her contention that the removal act was based upon little more than white greed.

For reasons unexplained, Greene claims that the loss of land led to “malnutrition and drastically reduced the overall health of the Indian peoples.” That Indians died on the Trail of Tears there is no doubt, but their death was not the result of having lost their land. It was the result of the callous and inhuman federal policies which failed to provide for their sustenance and wellbeing after having divested them of their means to provide that sustenance on their own. Worst still, Greene inaccurately places the sites of Indian migration in Illinois, Iowa, and Texas, ignoring Oklahoma altogether.

Finally, Greene attempts to tie the support of some members of the Five Civilized Tribes for the Confederacy to the legacy of the Trail of Tears. But no direct evidence is presented to substantiate this claim, other her reference to supposedly shared economic and cultural traits between the white South and the “civilized” tribes.

Kelly Greene referenced legitimate sources, such as ones from Civil War History and primary source documents from the National Archives and Records Administration, but her faulty interpretation of the information found therein, as well as an apparent inability to weave the source materials within the narrative, have created a research article submission that does not

achieve the stated goal of this project and does not offer much to an academic discussion of the subject.

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