Mastery of statistics involves not only the ability to generate sound statistical results, but also the ability to critically evaluate the statistical analysis of others. This is the focus of this assignment. A critique is not a summary or a simple retelling of the major findings in a research article. It is more than that and the results may make the difference between believing research results and using them, or not believing results and not using them.
The critique should critically review (not summarize) the article discussed. You should concentrate your analysis and critique on the data and the analysis of the data (statistics) presented. Do they support the conclusions reached by the author(s)? Why or why not? You do not have to agree with the conclusions reached during the discussion. If you do not agree, you should argue why you do not based on information contained in the article you are critiquing. If you believe important information or analysis is missing, you should also reference that. Similarly, if you agree, you should state why based on information presented in the article.
The paper should be three pages not including the title page. Points will be deducted if the paper is longer than four pages.
The critique should contain a title page, brief introduction and supporting paragraphs.
Includes title of the research article and author’s name(s), your name, and date.
- In the opening sentences, introduce the research topic, including the rationale or purpose for conducting the research and its objectives. What question(s) is the researcher trying to answer? Include identification of independent and dependent variables.
- State the author’s hypothesis or research question(s)?
- Briefly state the research methodology. How did the researcher study the topic? Survey? Experiment? Statistical Analysis? A combination of methods?
An in-depth critique of the article (Discuss how well the research is conducted)
Consider the following: (Do not do include any checklists. This must be a narrative discussion)
Is the research problem clearly stated? Is it easy to determine what the researcher intends to research?
Has a research question or hypothesis been identified? Is it clearly stated? Is it consistent with discussion in the article’s introduction and purpose?
Are all terms, theories, and concepts used in the study clearly defined?
Is the research design and methodology clearly identified? Has the data gathering instrument been described? Is the instrument appropriate? How was it developed? Were reliability and validity testing undertaken and the results discussed? Was a pilot study undertaken?
Also consider the following in your discussion:
- Was the population defined?
- What is the source of data used in the article?
- How the sample was selected (probability or nonprobability)? Was the size of the sample appropriate?
- Which descriptive statistics were used? Are they meaningful?
- If statistical analysis was conducted, was it appropriate and well defined?
- Do the tables and/or figures appropriately (or inappropriately) display the collected data?
- Are conclusions in the article backed up appropriately by the tables and statistics presented?
- If a hypothesis was identified was it supported? Were the strengths and limitations of the study including generalization discussed? Was a recommendation for further research made?
- Were all the books, journals and other media alluded to in the study accurately referenced?
Summing up your impressions is important:
- Considering all of your observations, is the article well or poorly researched?
- If you were to conduct the study, please explain the changes you could make to strengthen the validity of the study.
- Concluding remarks. Drive home the main thrust of your paper.
Tips for Writing Critiques
- The critique should critically review (NOT summarize!) the article discussed.
- Go through several drafts. NO ONE can write a perfect essay in one try. Your first draft should be much longer than the final draft. Then as you edit, try to make the same amount of information more concise and clear, continually refining your writing.
- Write in formal English avoiding casual language. Though we want to hear your opinions avoid using ‘I’ or ‘me.’ For example, instead of writing: “I think this research overlooked an important factor,” just write, “This research overlooked an important factor.”
- Though it is important to have a broad and strong vocabulary, don’t use stilted language for the sake of using fancy words. It makes the paper more difficult to read than is necessary.
- Write your critique as if your reader has NOT yet read the paper/essay you are critiquing.
- Write in active voice, which is more direct, bold, and concise than passive voice. Examples from The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White:
Passive: My first visit to Boston will always be remembered by me.
Active: I shall always remember my first visit to Boston.
Passive: There were a great number of dead leaves lying on the ground.
Active: Dead leaves covered the ground.
- Run spelling and grammar-checking programs carefully, double-checking the spelling of all specialized and scientific terms your dictionary will not recognize. Many spelling errors will be caught by these programs and these errors SHOULD NEVER persist in any work that is to be handed in for grading.
- Submit as a Word document. No PDF files.
- Use 12 point Times New Roman font and 1 inch margins
- Use section headings where appropriate
- Number all pages after the title page
- Do not use quotes from the article, paraphrase