What Exactly Is an Article Critique?
An article critique is a task that requires a student to read and reflect on a research article critically. The primary mission is to identify the piece’s strong and weak points and evaluate how well the author interprets its sources. Simply put, a critique considers the validity and effectiveness of the arguments used by the author of the article in his or her work.
Critical thinking is the key to success in writing this paper. Every author of a research article must persuade readers of the correctness of their viewpoint, no matter how skewed it is. As a result, the only way to tell a good argument from a bad one is to be a good researcher, have the right tools to separate fact from fiction, and have strong critical thinking skills.
Creating a Critique Paper – We will walk you through writing this type of work step by step in this guide. Before we continue, it is essential to note that the primary purpose of a good article critique is to bring up points that determine whether a reviewed article is correct or incorrect—much like you would when writing a persuasive essay. Although the purpose is the same, the structure of the article critique that we will discuss in this guide differs slightly from the standard 5-paragraph paper; however, both formats are suitable for convincing readers of the validity of your point of view.
The Main Steps for Criticizing an Article
This type of assignment is inherently tricky and perplexing. It’s easy for students to become overwhelmed when figuring out how to write an article critique.
To make it easier for you to complete your task, we’ve created a simple three-step guide on how to summarize and critique an article:
Step 1: Reading the Article
First and foremost, to critique the article, you must carefully read it. It is recommended that you read the piece several times until you fully understand the information presented in it. Following that, you must answer the following questions:
- Why is the article’s author regarded as an expert in their field?
What makes a particular author’s point of view sound credible? Is the author well-versed in the subject? What do other experts in the area have to say about the author? Is the article’s author being lauded academically, or are they not being taken seriously?
- What is the thesis/hypothesis of the author?
What is the author’s main point attempting to convey? Is this message clear to you? Or are there just a lot of general phrases with no specifics?
- Who is the intended audience for the article?
Is the article intended for a broad audience? Or does it target a specific group of people and use language that only that group understands?
- Are the presented arguments valid?
Are the author’s sources from all over the place? Is it possible that some of the sources were taken from areas with cult-like vocabulary?
- What are the logical flaws in the author’s point of view?
Are there any logical flaws? How much influence do they have on the outcome?
- Is the conclusion logical and clear?
Did the author reach a clear conclusion in their work?
Step 2: Gather Proof
The first step will assist you in reading and comprehending the piece and examining it critically and reflecting on it. When you’ve decided which direction you want to take with your critique paper, it’s time to start gathering evidence. The following are the main steps you should take:
- Determine Whether the Author Is Using Formal Logic
An important item to look for while writing an article review is the presence of any logical fallacies in the content. The task of determining whether or whether the author’s general notion is logically sound is challenging, but it is vital in order to finish the assignment.
Undereducated people frequently exhibit some common logical fallacies. Accepting information based on the feelings and emotions it evokes, rather than the supporting arguments, is an example of this.
Here is a list of some common logical fallacies, along with brief explanations for each:
- Ad hominem – when an author attacks someone who is expressing an opinion in order to discredit the other person’s viewpoint.
- Slippery Slope – when the author asserts that an action will always result in the worst-case scenario.
- Relationship versus causation – When the author decides that because activities 1 and 2 occurred sequentially, action 2 must be the result of action 1, this is referred to as correlation. The problem with such a statement is that the author concludes the relationship between the two actions without investigating the true causes and effects.
- Wishful thinking occurs when an author believes something that is not supported by evidence. This problem usually occurs when someone believes the information, they are given is true because it makes them feel good.
- Look for any distorted opinions in the article.
Another step is to assess the piece for the presence of biased viewpoints. The problem is that people frequently choose sides in an argument based on outcomes rather than evidence. If the result makes them feel bad in any way, they can look for evidence to disprove it and thus feel better.
- Take note of how the author interprets the texts of others. Are they viewing other people’s points of view through inappropriate political lenses?
It takes a lot of practice and years of research to recognize the fingerprints of all of the political slants out there. Let’s take a look at animal studies to get a better understanding of the concept. To begin, it’s worth noting that some people become involved in certain industries as a result of their emotional involvement in the topics they’re interested in. People who write a lot about animals, for example, are very likely to adore them. This puts their work at risk of being biased toward portraying animals in a way that elevates their topic above its due. This is a good example of what you’re looking for.
Find and highlight instances where the author overstates the importance of certain things due to his or her own beliefs as you read and reread the article. To hone your mental research tools, return to point 1 of this list and go over the list of logical fallacies to avoid.
- Examine the References
Another important step in writing a perfect critique paper is determining whether the article’s author cited untrustworthy sources of information. This is not an easy task and necessitates prior experience.
Take, for example, the Breitbart news. How would you determine whether a source is trustworthy or not? To assess trustworthiness, one should be aware of the organization’s long history of distorting facts to suit a far-right agenda. It is necessary to pay close attention to local and international news in order to learn this.
- Examine the Language in the Article
Language is important in every article, regardless of the field or topic. As a result, as you work on your critique, you should pay close attention to the language used by the author of the article.
To give you an example of what you should be looking for: some words have cultural meanings that can cause a sort of conflict in the article. In the “us vs. them” scenario, such words can place people, objects, or ideas on the “them” side.
For example, if a conservative refers to an opponent as a “leftist,” this can be interpreted as attacking the messenger rather than the message. A similar concept applies when a progressive refers to a detractor with the term “bigot.”
The use of such language in an essay is a clear indication of logical errors. Authors use it to discredit their opponents based on who they are rather than what they say. This is a poor choice of words because the debate is not resolved.
- Inquire about the Research Methods Used in Scientific Articles
This is not always required, but if you are writing an article critique for a scientific piece, you are expected to question and evaluate the author’s research methods.
To accomplish this, pose the following questions:
- How is the study’s design? Is there anything wrong with it?
- What is the piece’s explanation of the research methods?
- Was there a control group used in this study?
- Were there any issues with sample size?
- Were there any statistical miscalculations?
- Is it possible to replicate the experiment in a laboratory setting?
- Is there any real impact and/or value in the research (or experiment) in its field of science?
Step 3: Formatting Your Paper
A critique paper should be correctly formatted and structured like any other written assignment. A typical article critique comprises four parts: an introduction, a summary, a critique, and a conclusion. Here is a simple list to help you understand how a good paper should be formatted:
- The author’s name and the title of the article.
- The author’s central concept.
- A clear thesis statement that reflects the direction of your critique.
- The article’s main point.
- The main points made in the article.
- The article’s conclusion.
- Highlight the article’s strong and weak points.
- Give your educated opinion on the article’s relevance, clarity, and accuracy. Back up your claims with specific examples from the article.
- A summary of the article’s main points.
- Finalize your conclusion with your thoughts on the research’s relevance.
- If you claim that the research is relevant, explain why more research in this area would be beneficial.
How to Evaluate a Journal Article
So, you’ve been tasked with writing a critique paper for a journal article? If you’re not sure where to begin, here’s a step-by-step guide to criticizing a journal article:
- Gather basic information
Regardless of the topic of the article you are going to critique, your paper must include some basic information, such as:
- The title of the article under consideration.
- The title of the journal in which it appears, as well as the date and month of publication, volume number, and page numbers where the article can be found.
- The main issue or problem in the piece is stated.
- The purpose, research methods, approach, hypothesis, and important findings are all mentioned in this section of the document.
As a result, the first step is to gather this information.
- Read the article once and then re-read it.
First, get a general sense of it and an overview of it. A good critique should reflect your informed and qualified opinion on the article. To form such an opinion, you must reread the piece, this time critically, and highlight everything that will be useful in writing your paper.
- Create your critique based on the evidence you’ve gathered.
The following are the main questions to consider when writing a journal article critique:
- Is the title of the article clear and appropriate?
- Is the abstract of the article presented correctly, relevant to the article’s content, and specific?
- Is the introduction’s stated purpose made clear?
- Is there anything wrong with the author’s interpretations and facts?
- Is the discussion pertinent and worthwhile?
- Has the author used reliable and credible sources?
- Were there any ideas in the article that you felt were overemphasized or underemphasized?
- Do you think some parts of the piece should be expanded, condensed, or omitted?
- Are all of the author’s statements clear?
- What are the author’s fundamental assumptions?
- Are the approaches and research methods employed appropriate?
- Has the article’s author been objective in his or her statements?
- Are the statistical methods suitable?
- Is there any content that is duplicated or repeated?
How to Critique a Research Paper
If you’re wondering how to critique a specific research article, we’ve outlined the key steps to take below.
Before you begin, consider the following:
- Choose a piece that corresponds to your professor’s specifications.
- To grasp the main idea, read the entire article.
- Read the piece again with a critical eye.
- Define the author’s level of expertise on the chosen topic. What are the author’s qualifications?
- Consider the research methods used. Are the methods chosen by the author appropriate and useful for answering the stated research question(s)?
- Analyze the outcomes. Is there any evidence that the results are generalizable?
- Examine the article for any bias. Is there any evidence of a conflict of interest or bias?
- Define the overall level of research quality. Is the article current or out of date?
- Take note of the sources used. Did the sources back up their findings with theory and/or previous literature on the subject?
Struggling to identify the strong and weak points that will help shape your criticism? Here is a simple checklist (separated by sections) to help you understand what to criticize in a research article:
- Is there a problem statement made by the author?
- Does the problem statement correspond to the study’s focus?
- Is the stated problem researchable?
- Is there any background information about the problem provided by the author?
- Is the author discussing the problem’s significance?
- Is the author’s attention drawn to variables and their relationships?
- Does the author have the necessary qualifications to conduct this study?
- Review of Related Literature
- Is the literature review thorough?
- Are all references properly cited?
- Are the majority of the author’s sources primary?
- Did the author examine, critique, compare, and contrast the references and findings?
- Does the author explain why his or her references are relevant?
- Is the review of literature well-organized?
- Is the author specific about the key research questions and hypotheses?
- Is each hypothesis testable?
- Are all of the hypotheses and research questions clear, logical, and correct?
- Is the author’s description of the size and main characteristics of the participant groups complete?
- Does the author specify the size and characteristics of the sample if one is chosen?
- Is there enough information on the author’s sample selection method?
- Is there any limitation or bias in the way the author chose participants?
- Is the author specific about the instruments used?
- Are the instruments chosen appropriate?
- Are the instruments in accordance with general guidelines for the protection of experiment participants?
- Did the author obtain all of the necessary permissions?
- Is the author’s description of each instrument based on its dependability, purpose, validity, and content?
- Does the writer describe the procedures involved in the development and validation of any instruments created specifically for this study?
- Design and Procedures
- Is there any information provided about the research design?
- Is the author’s description of all of their procedures complete?
- Are the specified design and procedures suitable for investigating the stated problem or question?
- Do the procedures have a logical relationship to one another?
- Are the instruments and procedures being used properly?
- Is the research context described in detail?
- Is the author’s use of descriptive statistics appropriate?
- Did the author put all of his or her hypotheses to the test?
- Did the author make explicit the inductive logic used to generate results in their qualitative study?
- Are the outcomes understandable and logical?
- Did the author include any additional tables or figures? Are they simple to grasp, relevant, and well-organized?
- Is the information presented in the tables and figures also provided in the text?
Discussion, conclusion, or recommendations
- Is every finding discussed in relation to the original subject or hypothesis to which it relates?
- Is it the author’s practice to discuss each finding in terms of its agreement or disagreement with previous findings obtained by other specialists?
- Is it possible to make generalizations based on the results?
- Is the author’s discussion of the potential effects of uncontrolled variables on the findings?
- Is there any discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of the author’s findings?
- Is the author making any recommendations for future research?
- Does the author base his or her recommendations on the study’s practical significance?
Abstract or Summary
- Is the author reiterating the issue?
- Is the research design well-documented?
- Is the author’s description of the type and number of instruments and subjects complete?
- Is it possible to specify all of the procedures that are carried out?
- Is the author’s main conclusion and findings restated?
The article’s structure – Is the work properly organized? Are all titles, sections, subsections, and paragraphs logically organized?
The author’s style and thought – Is the author’s style and thought simple, clear, and logical?
After you’ve completed all of these steps, you can move on to writing. When writing your critique paper, you should conduct a critical analysis of the research article you have read and draw on the evidence gathered from it. To assist you in properly structuring your research article critique, here is a sample outline of a research critique for the article The Effects of Early Education on Children’s Competence in Elementary School:
- Bibliographic Information
- M. B. Bronson, D. E. Pierson, and T. Tivnan are the authors.
- The Effects of Early Education on Children’s Elementary School Competence
- The year of publication was 1984.
- Evaluation Review, 8(5), pp. 143-155.
- Summary of the Article
- Problem statement: Does the quality of early childhood education programs have a major and long-term impact on children’s abilities to succeed in elementary school?
- Background: In order to do well in elementary school, children must have a wide range of skills.
- Hypothesis: Early childhood education programs reduce the number of children who fall below the minimum competencies required for effective second-grade performance.
- Mastery skills, social skills, and time management are dependent variables. Brookline Early Education Program is an independent variable. Mother’s level of education is one of the variables that can be controlled.
- A quasi-experimental design was used, with a post-test only comparison group and no random selection of children, assignment to treatment, or control group.
- The study enrolled 169 students in the BEEP program. Students were chosen at random and matched by gender from the same second-grade classrooms. In addition, the children were divided into those who continued their BEEP program (104) and those who moved but were still tracked (65).
- Writers used a specially developed tool – the Executive Skill Profile – to detect and track students’ mastery, social, and time management skills for the study.
- Collection/Ethics: The observation occurred in the spring of the students’ second grade year. Observers recorded all children’s behaviors for six 10-minute periods on different days (between three and six weeks apart). Behavior duration and frequency were also recorded.
- Data analysis: The researchers used a battery of tests to look for any significant differences in mastery, social, and time management skills between matched pairs of children (those who were engaged in BEEP and those who moved elsewhere).
- The study found that children who participated in the BEEP program performed better on tests and demonstrated greater mastery and social skills. There were no changes in students’ time management abilities. For students whose mothers have a college education, the early education program made a difference at all three levels of treatment. The same program, however, made a difference only at the most intensive level for students whose mothers did not have a college education.
- Threats to Internal Validity
- History: The comparison children may not have spent their entire lives in the same area as the treatment students.
- Controlled maturation. Students were matched based on gender and grade level.
- Testing: Observers recorded students’ behaviors over three to six weeks. This fact could have influenced their actions.
- Instrumentation: The tool used may have been biased from the perspective of the observers.
- Selection bias: All of the students who were chosen volunteered to take part in the study. As a result, the findings could be influenced by self-selection.
- Students who left the area were still tracked as part of the treatment group, despite the fact that they should have been evaluated separately.
- Design contamination: Because the children in the comparison group were all from the same classroom, it is possible that they learned skills from the students in the treatment group.
- External Validity Threatening Factors
- The program’s distinguishing features were that it was open to both community residents and non-residents.
- Arrangements for experimentation: Brooklin, unlike many others, is a wealthy community.
- Is the article under consideration useful?
- Is this correct?
- Do the study’s findings appear credible? Explain.
- Is there any significance and/or practical value to the study in its respective field of science?