Writing critiques of research articles

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1 Writing up a critique of a research article

The following is a simple guide to understanding and writing critiques of academic research articles[1]

1.1 Introduction

Begin your paper by describing the specific issue / topic that you are addressing, and maybe why it is important or interested. Do not begin with general statements about the importance of English or good pronunciation skills / grammar skills / etc., or other commonly known information. Start with a specific introduction or background information on a specific topic. Also, cite the authors that you are critiquing. Summarize the main hypothesis or thesis of the paper and explain why you think the information is relevant.

State the main point of your paper – your thesis statements, which is the main point or idea of your critique (for shorter assignments such as a homework assignment, this could just be a dry statement to the effect that your paper is critiquing X's paper; also, this could be combined with #2 or omitted altogether in a short assignment).

1.2 Article summary

Provide a brief summary of the article, outlining the main points, results, and discussion. Do not provide a full summary; just summarize the most important points that are relevant to your paper, or the most important points of the study. If the article was discussed in class, then keep this as short as possible. For the research methods and study design, you can do this rather succinctly, by simply mentioning the type of research method used, with brief mention of other worthwhile details ("an eye tracking experiment was conducted on Korean college students, who read a short fictional story on a computer screen"). This can often be done in a couple or a few sentences at most – perhaps more for a complex study.The most important thing is to summarize their results / findings and conclusions, focusing on what is most relevant to your term paper (so don't include unnecessary details).

1.3 Your analysis

In this section, you should provide your critique of the article. Describe any problems, or particularly noteworthy strengths, that you noticed with the authors premises, research methods, or conclusions. Your critique might focus on problems with the authors argument, presentation, or on information and alternatives that might have been overlooked.

1.4 Conclusion

Your critique paper should end with an overview of the articles argument, your conclusions, and your reactions. Also, you could discuss implications of the article, e.g., practical implications, pedagogical implications, implications for future research. You could also discuss further questions that the study (or its findings) raise – maybe it addresses some issues, but leads to more questions. If so, what further kinds of research could be done, especially research that would be relevant to your work?

1.5 Format

Be sure to use APA style format in referring to the article(s) or other sources that you refer to, or whatever citation format is commonly used in your field. That is, you cite the source of your paper using only the authors' last names and year of publication within the text of your paper, e..g, "according to Jones (2005)" or "as one recent study (Jones, 2005) has reported, ...". The source should be cited at least once in your paper, the first time it is referred to, in this way, to give proper credit to the source. Full bibliographic information goes at the end of your paper in the end references section, with the author (family name first), year, article title, name of journal, volume, and page numbers of the article, e.g.:


Jones, A. (2005). An examination of L2 phonological errors of Martians learning English. Journal of Extraterrestrial Linguistics, 10, 225-234.

Avoid use of second person (the pronoun 'you', imperative verbs), and use little or no first person (especially 'I'; occasionally 'we' might be okay for some contexts).