If you have been asked to write a journal article critique example, you may be at a loss as to how to begin it. This is not about summarising an article, although your summary writing skills will be useful. In the introduction to your critique, you can briefly summarise the main points contained in the article in around 500 words. Make sure that you write in your own words. Paraphrase, don’t simply copy and paste the abstract that begins the article. This is plagiarism and will be penalised either by your tutor or the journal editor or even the author of the article.
In your summary here are several points that need to be mentioned.
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As a final check you should ensure that you have:
To begin with, if you are writing a journal article critique under exam conditions, you could find the task very demanding and stressful. In such conditions you might well forget some important points. Don’t forget that the critique needs to be unbiassed. you need to find both positive and negative points to mention. Even if a journal article has been peer-reviewed (and most journal articles are) it won’t be perfect. Don’t be afraid of stating your opinions, as they are as valid as anyone else’s, provided there is justification of them. Don’t be afraid to criticise a famous author if you think the criticism is justified and justifiable. You need to give your honest opinion.
You should refrain from giving too much background to the article. Journal readers will readily understand what the article is about. It is also possible that they will know precisely who the author is, so don’t provide a full biography, it isn’t necessary.
You need to state the main argument of the article clearly. Sometimes, students forget to do this. Don’t simply summarise the whole article. Discuss the findings and evaluate them.
Don’t forget the Bibliography with a list of useful, pertinent references.
Also, don’t forget to make recommendations for further research.
In order to write a successful critique of a journal article, you will need all your critical thinking skills. You need to analyse the article you are going to critique very carefully and thoroughly. Read it several times and decide if you agree or disagree with the author’s main points. You need to be able to evaluate information presented in the article and check facts that you didn’t know about before you read the article, to find out if they are, in fact, true. Of course, they should be as the journal article has already been edited before it was published. However, sometimes articles somehow slip through even the most careful editor’s net.
Critical thinking skills are highly valued in the world of employment, so it is worth developing them for use in the real world. They are not just useful for academic purposes, such as critiquing a journal article.
Perhaps the most important skill is an ability to analyse the information presented. If there are any words you are not sure about then look them up in a dictionary and cross check their meanings so that you have the word’s precise meaning. Mistakes are easily made, especially if a word is similar in your language, beware of making assumptions as they could be false. It would not create a good impression on a reader, or a tutor, if you had misunderstood an argument because you had not completely understood a word. Use a good thesaurus and an English-English dictionary that has examples of usage for students. Some words and their (mis)translations are false friends. Let’s take the example of ‘grand’ in English and ‘grand(e)’ in French. The English word can mean splendid or impressive, but the French word, which looks exactly the same if describing a masculine noun (grand), simply means ‘big’.
You will need to be an excellent communicator when writing a critique. Readers will have to understand your reasoning and follow your train of thought. Perhaps you need to develop your writing skills do that you can communicate your ideas clearly.
How about creativity? This is necessary too. You will need to identify patterns contained in the information in the article you are analysing. Also, you need to be creative when you come up with a new argument that no one else has thought of. Your writing should reflect the originality of your thoughts.
You need to be open-minded in order to think critically. Don’t make any judgements or assumptions about what you are reading. You have to objectively analyse the information in front of you.
Another important skill that is involved in critical thinking is that of problem solving. You will need to work through the article, find possible solutions to any problems you encounter while reading and work out if they are workable. Again, using a dictionary can eliminate guess work.
You will probably need to ask yourself some probing questions while reading, such as ‘Why did the author say this, instead of that?’ There is always an explanation if you take the time to search for it.
Your assessment of the article needs to be logical and reasonable. Give reasons to back up what you write. Don’t simply make a statement without an explanation of your thought processes. Your reader needs to understand what you mean.
A very valuable critical-thinking skill is curiosity. It is this that motivates you to learn and this that will guide you to understand in depth, any article you are critiquing. If you are interested in the article you are reading, you may well continue researching the topic you have encountered, perhaps for the first time.
While writing your critique, you will need to exercise your decision-making skills. You are summarising what might be a very lengthy article, so you have to decide what information is integral to your analysis and what is extraneous to your current requirements. What can you legitimately choose to ignore when writing your critique? Be careful that you don’t omit any important information.
Remember that there are different cultural perspectives and take these into account when reading your journal article. These cultural differences, which might exist between a reader and an author can complicate understanding. Be aware that if you and the author are from different cultural backgrounds there is some possibility that you will misunderstand the author’s intent. Think about the differences between cultures in an attempt to eliminate misunderstandings.
When you evaluate what you have read, be objective and unbiassed. If you are unsure of the author’s intent, offer an alternative explanation.
Are you able to make inferences? Can you read between the lines? This may be necessary, depending on the type of journal article you are reading. We make inferences when we read poetry and fiction, and often we need to fill n the gaps when we are reading journal articles. Not all authors can write clearly and succinctly, especially if English is not their first language. You might also need to make abstract connections while reading. Ask yourself, ‘What does this passage remind me of?’ especially if you think you have read it somewhere before. Follow the connections as these may give you further insight into what you are reading or have read. The more you pursue the connections you have found, the more in-depth your critique will be.
When we read we often begin to predict what the author will say. This is a valuable critical-thinking skill. We can test our hypotheses and if the author does not follow our predictions, we can ask ourselves why that might be. Is what we predicted more logical than what the author wrote? If it is this, is a flaw which can be mentioned in your critique if, after careful analysis, you are sure that there is a flaw in the author’s logic.
Always question what you read and do research into the topic you are reading. Don’t offer a superficial critique to a tutor or an editor. Don’t accept the author’s explanation of a phenomenon without questioning it. Healthy scepticism is a useful skill which will help develop your critical thinking ability.
You may need to use your imagination when writing a critique, especially if you are reading an author’s opinion of a piece of poetry of fiction. Your understanding of a poem might be very different from that of the author of the journal article. Work out why your opinions differ and consider the differences from a variety of perspectives.
When it comes to writing your critique of a journal article, you should, by then know the article inside-out. You don’t need to know it by heart, of course, but you must be fully conversant with it and the author’s perspective. You can, if you feel it is appropriate use quotes from the article to illustrate our points, although you don’t want to be penalised for waffling or using ‘padding’ in a critique.
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