Critique

A critique is a critical assessment of a text, for example, a journal article.  In academic writing, being critical does not have the negative meaning normally associated with this word's everyday use.  You are expected to read the text and give a personal response based on an analysis and reasoned evaluation of it.  There should be some personal engagement with the text.

A critique should help the reader understand the nature of the text, without the reader necessarily having access to it.  Your interpretation will explain the meaning of the text.  You will evaluate the text through a discussion of your opinions of it.  You will not include any direct quotations.

Start with a brief introduction and include why you chose the text, what the important issues are and what you found particularly interesting.  Then give a brief summary of the article before critiquing each section.

The questions below can be used as guidelines to focus your critique:

Introduction/rationale:

How does the author introduce the study and present evidence of its relevance and significance (theories, previous research)?

Theoretical framework:

Which primary and secondary literature is covered? Are recent and/or major reports cited?

Does the author identify and define/discuss key concepts?

Does the review of the literature lead coherently into the identification of the research objectives and description of the research study?

Methods:

What type of research methodology (quantitative or qualitative) was adopted? Does it seem appropriate for the enquiry and the specific research questions?

What aspects of the research process are described and justified, for example, selection of methods, choice of sample, measures to maximise reliability and validity?

Are ethical issues mentioned?

Which methods of data analysis are used, for example, statistics in survey research, and how are they justified?

Is there any further information which you would have liked included (given the limitations of the format)?

Presentation of findings:

Bearing in mind the different methods used for qualitative and quantitative research, how is the data presented?

Do the findings indicate validity? Do you feel the author's interpretations of the findings reasonable, or could there have been other factors which influenced the results? Was it possible to identify causal influences?

Does the study measure what it claims to be measuring?

Interpretation of data and conclusions:

Do the interpretations/conclusions seem consistent with the findings of the research and with the theoretical framework of the study?

Are the limitations of the study referred to?

Are the conclusions supported by evidence presented in the paper?

Are alternative explanations offered?

Are implications for future research identified?

Your conclusion should pick up the introductory remarks you made and add important information left out of the article that you needed to know; what the most important things you learned from the article are; what the wider community interested in this subject area would learn from it; whether the article prompted a personal interest in a specific line of study.

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