Scientific Journal Article Critique
Each time you evaluate an article, you will complete Part I and Part II. You will submit on a typed hardcopy Part I., and Part II on the due date listed in your syllabus.
1. Skim the article (take light notes)
Â· Read the abstract. The abstract informs you of the major findings of the study, and the importance.
Â· What is the big picture of the study (this is done as you read the article)
Â· Record terms or techniques you are not familiar with.
Â· Include questions to parts of the article you do not understand.
Â· If you are unfamiliar with concepts discussed throughout the article, then perform a Google search.
2. Re-read the article
Â· Go to the Materials and Methods and Results section, and ask the following questions within each section
o Was the study repeated? (You should know why a study must be repeated. If you do not know ask Prof. Olave or Dr. Bignami ASAP)
o What was the sample size? Is this representative of a large population?
o What were the variables? Controls?
o What factors might affect the outcome (according to the investigators)
o Interpret the data within each figure without looking at the text. Once you have done this, then read the text.
o Understand the purpose of the Materials and Methods
3. Preparing to summarize the article:
Â· Describe the article in your own words first. Can you explain to a friend without looking at your notes? If not, then most likely you do not understand. Go over your notes again.
Â· What was the purpose of the study?
Â· A reader who has not read your article must understand your summary.
4. Write a draft of your summary:
Â· Begin to write the article without looking at your notes. If you choose to look at your notes, then you may not understand the article, and may unintentionally plagiarize.
Â· Ask yourself the following questions to write your summary (without looking at your notes) in your own words:
o What was the purpose of the study?
o What questions were asked?
o How did the study address these questions?
o What assumptions did the author make?
o What were the major findings?
o What questions are still unanswered (according to the authors of the article)
Part II. Critical Review and Assessment of the Article
Â· In your summary, include your own analysis and evaluation of the article.
Â· Do not include personal opinions
Â· Use professional language. For example:
Common language: Dipodomys merriami is a kangaroo rat that has a longer Loop of Henle, and this helps it survive better in the desert by retaining more water.
Professional language: A longer Loop of Henle in Dipodomys merriami allows for greater water absorption, an adaptation that has led to survival in an arid environment.
Â· How did this study answer questions proposed in the introduction section of the paper?
Â· Include the limitations of the study:
o Does the data support the conclusions of the study. Explain.
o What questions remain unanswered?
o How could future studies be improved?
Note: This scientific writing critique is based on Pechenik, Jan A. â€œWriting Summaries and Critiques.â€ A Short Guide to Writing about Biology. Ed. Rebecca Gilpin. 6th ed. New York: Pearson, 2007. 130-138.