Critique of a Research Article
The goal of this activity is to give you an opportunity to apply whatever you learned in this course in evaluating a research paper. Warning!!!!You might have done some article summaries or even critical evaluation of some resources. However, this activity is unique because you evaluate a research article from a methodology perspective.
For this assignment you briefly summarize and extensively evaluate the attached educational research article (If you cannot download the article please go to BeachBoard/Content/Articles to download the article).
This assignment should be done individually. In the summary section, you should write a brief (up to 500 words) summary of the article in your own words. Don’t use copy and paste try to rephrase. This will be a good practice for your final project’s literature review. In the critique section, you evaluate the article using the following grading criteria.
Grading criteria for research critique
In your summary, you should identify main elements of the research including
1. Research problem
2. Research goal
4. Research Questions
5. Research Method (briefly explain)
6. Sample (participants)
8. Tools (instruments, tests, surveys)
9. Main findings (brief summary of the results)
The critique part should be 2-3 pages (1000-2000 words) and include to the following sections. Your critique should be longer than your summary and you pay special attention to the design and procedure. Your grade on this assignment is based on your answer the following questions.
There is a long list of questions. You don’t have to address all questions. However, you should address highlighted questions. Some questions are relevant to this article some are not. I listed so many questions simply because I’d like you to learn what to look for in evaluating a research article.
The format of your paper should NOT be like a Q & A list. Instead, you should integrate your answers into an essay format similar to the given examples.
1. Is there a statement of the problem?
2. Is the problem “researchable”? That is, can it be investigated through the collection and analysis of data?
3. Is background information on the problem presented?
4. Is the educational significance of the problem discussed?
5. Does the problem statement indicate the variables of interest and the specific relationship between those variables which are investigated? When necessary, are variables directly or operationally defined?
Review of Related Literature
1. Is the review comprehensive?
2. Are all cited references relevant to the problem under investigation?
3. Are most of the sources primary, i.e., are there only a few or no secondary sources?
4. Have the references been critically analyzed and the results of various studies compared and contrasted, i.e., is the review more than a series of abstracts or annotations?
5. Does the review conclude with a brief summary of the literature and its implications for the problem investigated?
6. Do the implications discussed form an empirical or theoretical rationale for the hypotheses which follow?
1. Are specific questions to be answered listed or specific hypotheses to be tested stated?
2. Does each hypothesis state an expected relationship or difference?
3. If necessary, are variables directly or operationally defined?
4. Is each hypothesis testable?
1. Are the size and major characteristics of the population studied described?
2. If a sample was selected, is the method of selecting the sample clearly described?
3. Is the method of sample selection described one that is likely to result in a representative, unbiased sample?
4. Did the researcher avoid the use of volunteers?
5. Are the size and major characteristics of the sample described?
6. Does the sample size meet the suggested guideline for minimum sample size appropriate for the method of research represented?
1. Is the rationale given for the selection of the instruments (or measurements) used?
2. Is each instrument described in terms of purpose and content?
3. Are the instruments appropriate for measuring the intended variables?
4. Is evidence presented that indicates that each instrument is appropriate for the sample under study?
5. Is instrument validity discussed and coefficients given if appropriate?
6. Is reliability discussed in terms of type and size of reliability coefficients?
7. If appropriate, are subtest reliabilities given?
8. If an instrument was developed specifically for the study, are the procedures involved in its development and validation described?
9. If an instrument was developed specifically for the study, are administration, scoring or tabulating, and interpretation procedures fully described?
Design and Procedure
1. Is the design appropriate for answering the questions or testing the hypotheses of thestudy?
2. Are the procedures described in sufficient detail to permit them to be replicated by another researcher?
3. If a pilot study was conducted, are its execution and results described as well as its impact on the subsequent study?
4. Are the control procedures described?
5. Did the researcher discuss or account for any potentially confounding variables that he or she was unable to control for?
1. Are appropriate descriptive or inferential statistics presented?
2. Was the probability level, α, at which the results of the tests of significance were evaluated,
specified in advance of the data analyses?
3. If parametric tests were used, is there evidence that the researcher avoided violating the
required assumptions for parametric tests?
4. Are the tests of significance described appropriate, given the hypotheses and design of the
5. Was every hypothesis tested?
6. Are the tests of significance interpreted using the appropriate degrees of freedom?
7. Are the results clearly presented?
8. Are the tables and figures (if any) well organized and easy to understand?
9. Are the data in each table and figure described in the text?
Discussion (Conclusions and Recommendation)
1. Is each result discussed in terms of the original hypothesis to which it relates?
2. Is each result discussed in terms of its agreement or disagreement with previous results
obtained by other researchers in other studies?
3. Are generalizations consistent with the results?
4. Are the possible effects of uncontrolled variables on the results discussed?
5. Are theoretical and practical implications of the findings discussed?
6. Are recommendations for future action made?
7. Are the suggestions for future action based on practical significance or on statistical
significance only, i.e., has the author avoided confusing practical and statistical
8. Are recommendations for future research made?
Make sure that you cover the following questions in your critique even if you have already covered them in your crtique.
1. Is the research important? Why?
2. In your own words what methods and procedures were used? Evaluate the methods and procedures.
3. Evaluate the sampling method and the sample used in this study.
4. Describe the reliability and validity of all the instruments used.
5. What type of research is this? Explain.
6. How was the data analyzed?
7. What is (are) the major finding(s)? are these findings important?
8.What are your suggestions to improve this research?
Here is a hint on how to evaluate an article.
Use this resource for writing and APA style.
Examples (please note some examples are longer than what is expected for this article)
· Good example
· Poor example
· Original article
· Article critique
What is a critique?
A critique is a genre of academic writing that briefly summarises and critically evaluates a work or concept. Critiques can be used to carefully analyse a variety of works such as:
- Creative works – novels, exhibits, film, images, poetry
- Research – monographs, journal articles, systematic reviews, theories
- Media – news reports, feature articles
Like an essay, a critique uses a formal, academic writing style and has a clear structure, that is, an introduction, body and conclusion. However, the body of a critique includes a summary of the work and a detailed evaluation. The purpose of an evaluation is to gauge the usefulness or impact of a work in a particular field.
Why do we write critiques?
Writing a critique on a work helps us to develop:
- A knowledge of the work’s subject area or related works.
- An understanding of the work’s purpose, intended audience, development of argument, structure of evidence or creative style.
- A recognition of the strengths and weaknesses of the work.
How to write a critique
Before you start writing, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the work that will be critiqued.
- Study the work under discussion.
- Make notes on key parts of the work.
- Develop an understanding of the main argument or purpose being expressed in the work.
- Consider how the work relates to a broader issue or context.
There are a variety of ways to structure a critique. You should always check your unit materials or blackboard site for guidance from your lecturer. The following template, which showcases the main features of a critique, is provided as one example.
Typically, the introduction is short (less than 10% of the word length) and you should:
- Name the work being reviewed as well as the date it was created and the name of the author/creator.
- Describe the main argument or purpose of the work.
- Explain the context in which the work was created. This could include the social or political context, the place of the work in a creative or academic tradition, or the relationship between the work and the creator’s life experience.
- Have a concluding sentence that signposts what your evaluation of the work will be. For instance, it may indicate whether it is a positive, negative, or mixed evaluation.
Briefly summarise the main points and objectively describe how the creator portrays these by using techniques, styles, media, characters or symbols. This summary should not be the focus of the critique and is usually shorter than the critical evaluation.
This section should give a systematic and detailed assessment of the different elements of the work, evaluating how well the creator was able to achieve the purpose through these. For example: you would assess the plot structure, characterisation and setting of a novel; an assessment of a painting would look at composition, brush strokes, colour and light; a critique of a research project would look at subject selection, design of the experiment, analysis of data and conclusions.
A critical evaluation does not simply highlight negative impressions. It should deconstruct the work and identify both strengths and weaknesses. It should examine the work and evaluate its success, in light of its purpose.
Examples of key critical questions that could help your assessment include:
- Who is the creator? Is the work presented objectively or subjectively?
- What are the aims of the work? Were the aims achieved?
- What techniques, styles, media were used in the work? Are they effective in portraying the purpose?
- What assumptions underlie the work? Do they affect its validity?
- What types of evidence or persuasion are used? Has evidence been interpreted fairly?
- How is the work structured? Does it favour a particular interpretation or point of view? Is it effective?
- Does the work enhance understanding of key ideas or theories? Does the work engage (or fail to engage) with key concepts or other works in its discipline?
This evaluation is written in formal academic style and logically presented. Group and order your ideas into paragraphs. Start with the broad impressions first and then move into the details of the technical elements. For shorter critiques, you may discuss the strengths of the works, and then the weaknesses. In longer critiques, you may wish to discuss the positive and negative of each key critical question in individual paragraphs.
To support the evaluation, provide evidence from the work itself, such as a quote or example, and you should also cite evidence from related sources. Explain how this evidence supports your evaluation of the work.
This is usually a very brief paragraph, which includes:
- A statement indicating the overall evaluation of the work
- A summary of the key reasons, identified during the critical evaluation, why this evaluation was formed.
- In some circumstances, recommendations for improvement on the work may be appropriate.
Include all resources cited in your critique. Check with your lecturer/tutor for which referencing style to use.
Checklist for a critique
- Mentioned the name of the work, the date of its creation and the name of the creator?
- Accurately summarised the work being critiqued?
- Mainly focused on the critical evaluation of the work?
- Systematically outlined an evaluation of each element of the work to achieve the overall purpose?
- used evidence, from the work itself as well as other sources, to back and illustrate my assessment of elements of of the work?
- formed an overall evaluation of the work, based on critical reading?
- used a well structured introduction, body and conclusion?
- used correct grammar, spelling and punctuation; clear presentation; and appropriate referencing style?
University of New South Wales - some general criteria for evaluating works
University of Toronto - The book review or article critique