Critically Evaluating a Journal Article

The purpose of a critical review of a journal article is to describe the general nature of the work. The critical review should summarize, analyze and evaluate the journal article.

The review usually has three main parts:

Identification of author & work

Reviews should begin with a full bibliographic citation (author, date, title of journal article, name of journal, volume, issue, and pages). Relevant biographical information about the author's qualifications can also be included.

Summary

Define the general subject/problem/research areas, the scope (what the author intends to discuss and why), and the central idea. Summarize the author's major findings and conclusions.

Analysis/Evaluation

In this section, you must analyze the various parts of the article thoughtfully and carefully so that you can establish its strengths and weaknesses. Considering both strengths and weaknesses allows you to explore the article more thoroughly and evaluate it more persuasively by presenting a balanced view.

Consider the following questions; however, not all will be appropriate for every article.

  • What is the objective/purpose of the research, study or work discussed in the article? Does the author accomplish this objective?
  • Who is the intended audience? Is the writing style appropriate for this audience, or should the author have used different levels of language, vocabulary and sentence patterns?
  • What is the effect of the author's language? Are the vocabulary and sentence structure appropriate? Does the author maintain neutrality/objectivity in choosing words and terms, or are they emotionally charged of biased?
  • Does the author define any terms? Are the definitions specific, useful?
  • Are illustrations, tables or graphs used? Do they complement the text? Are they the best method to present data or are they unnecessary?
  • Does the author suggest areas for further research or discussion? What is the size of the reference section? Are the references recent, important? Are they used for support or rebuttal?

Organization

Your critical review should be coherent and permit the reader to go smoothly from one part to another. You do not need to use subheadings for the various sections; instead, use transitions between sentences and paragraphs to give continuity.