How to review journal articles?

Taken from http://www.library.ualberta.ca/guides/criticalreviews/index.cfm on 250909

Critical Reviews of Journal Articles

A critical review of a journal article is an evaluation of an article’s strengths, weaknesses and validity. It is used to inform readers of an article’s value through explanation, interpretation and analysis. The reviewer must present information that will allow the reader to make a value judgment about the article.

Guidelines and Questions to be Considered
  1. Reviews should begin with a full bibliographic citation (author, title of journal article, name of journal, volume, issue, date of publication, pages).
  2. Is there any biographical information about the author given? What are the author’s qualifications and authority?
  3. Who is the intended audience?
  4. Define the general problem area. What does the author intend to discuss? Why?
  5. Does the author try to build on past research?
  6. What is the objective or purpose of the research? Is this clearly stated?
  7. Does the author define any terms? Are the definitions specific, useful, circular?
  8. What is the effect of the author’s language? Is the vocabulary and sentence structure appropriate? Does the author maintain neutrality in his/her choice of words and terms or are they emotionally charged or biased?
  9. Are references given (footnotes or bibliography)? What is the size of the reference section? Are the references recent, important? How are the references used: for support, rebuttal, etc.?
  10. If the article is a report of a research study, does the author clearly state what is expected to happen? What is the sample for the study and how is it selected? Does the author discuss factors or variables that may affect the research? Are the methods for measuring results clearly explained and appropriate? Does the expected result occur?
  11. Are illustrations, tables or graphs used? Do they complement the text? Are they the best method to present data, or are they unnecessary?
  12. What are the author’s major findings and conclusions? Have these been supported by the author’s analyses, arguments, findings or evidence? Has the author overlooked anything?
  13. Is the article referred to by anyone else? (Check the Web of Science database for this information.) How is the article used by other authors: background, support, rebuttal, etc.?
  14. Does the author accomplish her/his objective? Does the author do what she/he has set out to do?
  15. Does the author suggest areas for further research or discussion?

The guidelines and questions listed above are suggestions that should be considered when writing a critical review of an article. Not all of the questions or guidelines will be appropriate for every article and depend upon the purpose of the review.

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