Write a Critical Review of a Scientific Journal Article
What is a scientific journal, what is a critical review, more help with science writing.
- Analyzing the Text
- Writing Your Critique
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A scientific journal is a publication intended to further the progress of scientific discovery by reporting novel research. Scientific journals publish both original research articles and review articles.
A critical review is an assessment of an original research article. Writing a critical review of a journal article can help you improve your research skills. By assessing the work of others, you develop skills as a critical reader and become familiar with the types of evaluation criteria that will be applied to research in your ﬁeld.
You are expected to read the article carefully, analyze it, and evaluate the quality and originality of the research, as well as its relevance and presentation. You should assess its strengths and weaknesses, followed by its overall value.
- Do not be confused by the term critique: it does not mean that you only look at the negative aspects of what the researchers have done. You should address both the positive and negative aspects of the journal article.
- If your instructor has given you speciﬁc advice on how to write a critical review, follow that advice. If not, the following steps may help you.
This guide is divided into two parts. The ﬁrst part, "Analyzing the Text," outlines the steps involved in evaluating a research article. The second part, "Writing Your Critique," discusses two possible ways to structure your review.
- Developing a Research Question + Worksheet Use this worksheet to develop, assess, and refine your research questions. There is also a downloadable PDF version.
- Research Article Mapping Template This workbook provides writers with a mapping template and fillable worksheets to begin organizing and drafting sections of a research article.
- Organizing your Research Proposal - Template This 6-page fillable pdf handout provides writers with a template to begin outlining sections of their own research proposal.
- WriteOnline.ca Case Study Report; Lab Report; Literature Review; Reflective Writing
- Writing in the Sciences This series of modules, interviews, and resources are designed to provide science researchers and post-secondary students with practical guidance on how to use clarity and precision in scientific writing.
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How to read a paper, critical review
Reading a scientific article is a complex task. The worst way to approach this task is to treat it like the reading of a textbook—reading from title to literature cited, digesting every word along the way without any reflection or criticism.
A critical review (sometimes called a critique, critical commentary, critical appraisal, critical analysis) is a detailed commentary on and critical evaluation of a text. You might carry out a critical review as a stand-alone exercise, or as part of your research and preparation for writing a literature review. The following guidelines are designed to help you critically evaluate a research article.
How to Read a Scientific Article
You should begin by skimming the article to identify its structure and features. As you read, look for the author’s main points.
- Generate questions before, during, and after reading.
- Draw inferences based on your own experiences and knowledge.
- To really improve understanding and recall, take notes as you read.
What is meant by critical and evaluation?
- To be critical does not mean to criticise in an exclusively negative manner. To be critical of a text means you question the information and opinions in the text, in an attempt to evaluate or judge its worth overall.
- An evaluation is an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of a text. This should relate to specific criteria, in the case of a research article. You have to understand the purpose of each section, and be aware of the type of information and evidence that are needed to make it convincing, before you can judge its overall value to the research article as a whole.
- How to read a scientific paper
- How to conduct a critical review
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Introduction to Research: Humanities and Social Sciences
- Critical Reviews
- Choosing Your Research Topic
- Finding Background Information
- Choosing Relevant Keywords
- Connecting Keywords
- Citation Searching
- Films & Videos
- Scholarly vs. Popular Sources
- Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly Periodicals
- Web Resources
- Annotated Bibliography
- Reflective Writing
- Citing Sources
- Off Campus?
Writing Critical Reviews
What is a Critical Review of a Journal Article?
A critical review of a journal article evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of an article's ideas and content. It provides description, analysis and interpretation that allow readers to assess the article's value.
Before You Read the Article
- What does the title lead you to expect about the article?
- Study any sub-headings to understand how the author organized the content.
- Read the abstract for a summary of the author's arguments.
- Study the list of references to determine what research contributed to the author's arguments. Are the references recent? Do they represent important work in the field?
- If possible, read about the author to learn what authority he or she has to write about the subject.
- Consult Web of Science to see if other writers have cited the author's work. (Please see 'How to use E-Indexes'.) Has the author made an important contribution to the field of study?
Reading the Article: Points to Consider
Read the article carefully. Record your impressions and note sections suitable for quoting.
- Who is the intended audience?
- What is the author's purpose? To survey and summarize research on a topic? To present an argument that builds on past research? To refute another writer's argument?
- Does the author define important terms?
- Is the information in the article fact or opinion? (Facts can be verified, while opinions arise from interpretations of facts.) Does the information seem well-researched or is it unsupported?
- What are the author's central arguments or conclusions? Are they clearly stated? Are they supported by evidence and analysis?
- If the article reports on an experiment or study, does the author clearly outline methodology and the expected result?
- Is the article lacking information or argumentation that you expected to find?
- Is the article organized logically and easy to follow?
- Does the writer's style suit the intended audience? Is the style stilted or unnecessarily complicated?
- Is the author's language objective or charged with emotion and bias?
- If illustrations or charts are used, are they effective in presenting information?
Prepare an Outline
Read over your notes. Choose a statement that expresses the central purpose or thesis of your review. When thinking of a thesis, consider the author's intentions and whether or not you think those intentions were successfully realized. Eliminate all notes that do not relate to your thesis. Organize your remaining points into separate groups such as points about structure, style, or argument. Devise a logical sequence for presenting these ideas. Remember that all of your ideas must support your central thesis.
Write the First Draft
The review should begin with a complete citation of the article. For example:
Platt, Kevin M.F. "History and Despotism, or: Hayden White vs. Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great." Rethinking History 3:3 (1999) : 247-269.
NOTE: Use the same bibliographic citation format as you would for any bibliography, works cited or reference list. It will follow a standard documentation style such as MLA or APA.
Be sure to ask your instructor which citation style to use. For frequently used style guides consult Queen's University Library's Citing Sources guide.
The first paragraph may contain:
- a statement of your thesis
- the author's purpose in writing the article
- comments on how the article relates to other work on the same subject
- information about the author's reputation or authority in the field
The body of the review should:
- state your arguments in support of your thesis
- follow the logical development of ideas that you mapped out in your outline
- include quotations from the article which illustrate your main ideas
The concluding paragraph may:
- summarize your review
- restate your thesis
Revise the First Draft
Ideally, you should leave your first draft for a day or two before revising. This allows you to gain a more objective perspective on your ideas. Check for the following when revising:
- grammar and punctuation errors
- organization, logical development and solid support of your thesis
- errors in quotations or in references
You may make major revisions in the organization or content of your review during the revision process. Revising can even lead to a radical change in your central thesis.
NOTE: Prepared by University of Toronto Mississauga Library, Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre.
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Writing a Critical Review (Allyson Skene, The Writing Centre, U of Toronto at Scarborough)
The Book Review or Article Critique (Margaret Procter, Writing Support, University of Toronto)
Critical Reviews of Journal Articles (Herbert Coutts, University of Alberta)
Writing a Critical Review (The Writing Centre, Queen's University)
- Last Updated: Jul 27, 2022 4:03 PM
- Subjects: Multidisciplinary
The Official Blog of the Journal of European Psychology Students
How to critically evaluate the quality of a research article?
So what’s the criteria to determine whether a result can be trusted? As it is taught in the first classes in psychology, errors may emerge from any phase of the research process. Therefore, it all boils down to how the research has been conducted and the results presented.
Meltzoff (2007) emphasizes the key issues that can produce flawed results and interpretations and should therefore be carefully considered when reading articles. Here is a reminder on what to bear in mind when reading a research article:
Research question The research must be clear in informing the reader of its aims. Terms should be clearly defined, even more so if they’re new or used in specific non-spread ways. You as a reader should pay particular attention should to errors in logic, especially those regarding causation, relationship or association.
Sample To provide trustworthy conclusions, a sample needs to be representative and adequate. Representativeness depends on the method of selection as well as the assignment. For example, random assignment has its advantages in front of systematic assignment in establishing group equivalence. The sample can be biased when researchers used volunteers or selective attrition. The adequate sample size can be determined by employing power analysis.
Control of confounding variables Extraneous variation can influence research findings, therefore methods to control relevant confounding variables should be applied.
Research designs The research design should be suitable to answer the research question. Readers should distinguish true experimental designs with random assignment from pre-experimental research designs.
Criteria and criteria measures The criteria measures must demonstrate reliability and validity for both, the independent and dependent variable.
Data analysis Appropriate statistical tests should be applied for the type of data obtained, and assumptions for their use met. Post hoc tests should be applied when multiple comparisons are performed. Tables and figures should be clearly labelled. Ideally, effect sizes shou
ld be included throughout giving a clear indication of the variables’ impact.
Discussion and conclusions Does the study allow generalization? Also, limitations of the study should be mentioned. The discussion and conclusions should be consistent with the study’s results. It’s a common mistake to emphasizing the results that are in accordance with the researcher’s expectations while not focusing on the ones that are not. Do the authors of the article you hold in hand do the same?
Ethics Last but not least, ere the ethical standards met? For more information, refer to the APA’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (2010).
References American Psychological Association (2010, June 1). American Psychological Association Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct . Retrieved July 28, 2011 from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx
Meltzoff, J. (2007). Critical Thinking About Research. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Edited by: Maris Vainre
- How to critically evaluate internet-based sources?
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Research Analysis Paper: How to Analyze a Research Article 
Do you need to write a research analysis paper but have no idea how to do that? Then you’re in the right place.
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While completing this type of assignment, your key aim is to critically analyze a research article. An article from a serious scientific journal would be a good choice. You can analyze and interpret either quantitative or qualitative research.
Below, you’ll find a how-to guide on research analysis paper writing prepared by our experts. It contains outlining and formatting tips, topics, and examples of research articles analysis.
- Scan the Paper
- Examine the Content
- Check the Format
- Critique & Evaluate
- ✅ Key Questions
🔎 how to analyze a research article.
This analysis will be beneficial for you since it develops your critical thinking and research skills. So, let us present the main steps that should be undertaken to read and evaluate the paper correctly.
Now, let’s figure out what an analysis paper should include. There are several essential elements the reader should identify:
- logical reasons for conducting the study;
- the description of the methodology applied in the research;
- concise and clear report of the findings;
- a logical conclusion based on the results.
You can use free paper samples for college students before you work with your own writing to get a feel of how the analyzing process goes.
Step 1: Scan the Paper
First, briefly look through the found paper and evaluate whether it’s appropriate for your research. Scanning helps you to start the content analysis and get the general idea of the study.
To scan the paper effectively, follow these simple steps:
- Get familiar with the title, abstract , and introduction . Carefully read these parts and make sure you got the author’s point.
- Read the headings of each section and sub-section. But don’t spend time to get familiar with the content.
- Look through the conclusions. Check the overall one and the last sentence of each section.
- Scan the references. Have you read any of these sources before? Highlight them and decide whether they are appropriate for your research or not.
Have you completed these steps of your research paper’s critical analysis? Now, you should be able to answer these questions:
- What kind of a paper is it (qualitative research, quantitative research, a case study, etc.)?
- What is the research paper topic? How is it connected to your subject of study?
- Do you feel like the findings and the conclusions are valid?
- How can the source contribute to your study?
- Is the paper clear and well-written?
After completing this step, you should have a clear image of the text’s general idea. Also, here you can decide whether the given paper is worth further examination.
Step 2: Examine the Content
The next step leads to a deeper understanding of the topic. Here, again, you can try the following course of action to take the maximum benefit from the evaluation of the source.
Receive a plagiarism-free paper tailored to your instructions.
- Find the author’s thesis. A thesis statement is usually the last sentence of the introduction (or several sentences). It is an essential part of the paper since it reflects the author’s main point. Make sure you determined the thesis statement and understood it.
- Consider the author’s arguments. How does the author support his position? What are the key arguments they present in their research paper? Are they logical? Evaluate whether the points are clear and concise enough for any reader to get. Do they support the author’s thesis?
- Check the evidence. Try to find all the proof provided by the writer. A successful research paper should have valid evidence for every argument. These can be statistics, diagrams, facts taken from documentaries or books, experiments hold by researchers, etc.
- Determine the limits of the study. An author is supposed to set limits to avoid making their research too broad. Find out what are the variables the writer relied on while determining the exact field of study. Keep them in mind when you decide whether the paper accomplished its goals within limits.
- Establish the author’s perspective. What position does the author take? What methods are applied to prove the correctness of the writer’s point? Does it match with your opinion? Why/ why not?
Sometimes, even after the second step of evaluation, the writer’s perspective is not evident. What to do in this case? There are three scenarios:
- Stop investigating the paper and hope that you will not need it for your research.
- Read some background information on the given topic. Then, reread the paper. This might help you to comprehend the general idea.
- Don’t give up and move on to the next step of the evaluation.
Step 3: Check the Format and Presentation
At this stage, analyze the research paper format and the general presentation of the arguments and facts. Start with the evaluation of the sentence levels. In the research paper, there should be a hierarchy of sentences. To trace the research paper structure, take a look at the tips:
- First-level sentences. They include only general statements and present the ideas that will be explored further in the paper.
- Middle-level sentences. These sentences summarize, give a narrower idea, and present specific arguments.
- Deep-level sentences. They contain specific facts and evidence that correspond to the arguments stated in middle-level sentences.
Your research paper analysis should also include format evaluation. This task might be challenging unless you have the formatting style manual open in front of your eyes.
Figure out what citation style the author applied and check whether all the requirements are met. Here is a mini checklist you have to follow:
- in-text citations
- reference list
- font style and size, spacing
- abstract (if needed)
- appendix (if needed)
Step 4: Critique & Evaluate
This step requires attention to every detail in the paper. Identify each of the author’s assumptions and question them. Do you agree with the author’s evidence? How would you support the arguments? What are your opinions regarding the author’s ideas?
Just $13.00 $10.40/page , and you can get an custom-written academic paper according to your instructions
Try to re-implement the entire paper from your perspective and see how your version differs from the initial work. This trick will help you to determine the strong and weak sides of the work.
Then, move on to criticism. An effective way to evaluate a research paper consists of asking the right questions and assessing the crucial aspects, like:
- The author’s objective and whether it was reached. Did you get the author’s main idea? Did the writer reach their aim and explain the arguments in great detail? Remember that even if the reader is not majoring in the study field, they should understand the objective. Is there something that remained unclear for you? In your opinion, what is the cause of your inability to comprehend the material?
- The role in the broader context. Make sure the author’s arguments and evidence sound adequately in the larger context. Do the writer’s ideas contradict social norms. If so, why? Also, check the sources the author uses for their research. Make sure they are reliable and not outdated.
- Grammar and organization. A professional research paper should not contain any mistakes. Make sure the text is flawless regarding grammar and structure. The ideas have to follow the logical flow; the tone should be academic; the paper should include transitions, summaries should be on point (which is easier to achieve with the help of a paper summarizer ) and so on.
- What the reader learns. The primary aim of an author is to deliver useful information to the reader. Did you, as a reader, find some new insights? Were they relevant and valuable? Consider whether you’ve read something similar before and how the data fit within limits set by the author.
✅ Research Analysis Paper: Key Questions
As you can see, the task requires a lot of time and effort. That is why we’ve prepared a list of questions you should ask while analyzing a research paper. Use them as a ground for critical reading and evaluation.
Congrats! Now you know how to write a research paper analysis. You are welcome to check out our writing tips available on the website and save a ton of time on your academic papers. Share the link with your peers who may need our advice as well.
- An Introduction to Critical Analysis of Publications in Experimental Biomedical Science, the Research Paper in Basic Medical Sciences: K. Rangachari, modified by D.J. Crankshaw, McMaster University Honours Biology & Pharmacology Program
- Critical Analysis Template: Keiran Rankin and Sara Wolfe, the Writing Centre, Thompson Rivers University
- How to Read a Paper: S. Keshav, David R. Cheriton, School of Computer Science, the University of Waterloo
- How to Read a Research Paper: School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University
- Reading Research Effectively, Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: Research Guides at the University of Southern California
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Dear Mustafa, There might be one available on our free essays page – you are welcome to check it out and find out more about the available sample papers that we have! Have a great day!
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