A standard article critique should address the following areas:
- The Critique
- Literature review
- Research questions (hypotheses)
- Body (article discussion and evaluation)
- Conclusion, or follow-up research proposal
- Reference page
First you address the key areas of concern discussed in the article. After critiquing the article, provide a paragraph on a potential follow-up study. This follow-up study paragraph does not have to be an extensive description of a completely new study. Rather, it may adopt the basic design of the first study, only with some modifications to make it better.
Please note that writing a critique text means analyzing and evaluating, not just summarizing. A summary merely reports what the text said; that is, it answers only the question, "What did the author say?" A critique, on the other hand, analyzes, interprets, and evaluates the text, answering the questions how? why? and how well? A critique does not necessarily have to criticize the piece in a negative sense. Your reaction to the text may be largely positive, negative, or a combination of the two. It is important to explain why you respond to the text in a certain way.
Step 1. Analyze the text
As you read the book or article you plan to critique, the following questions will help you analyze the text:
- What is the author's main point?
- What is the author's purpose?
- Who is the author's intended audience?
- What arguments does the author use to support the main point?
- What evidence does the author present to support the arguments?
- What are the author's underlying assumptions or biases?
You may find it useful to make notes about the text based on these questions as you read.
Step 2. Evaluate the text
After you have read the text, you can begin to evaluate the author's ideas. The following questions provide some ideas to help you evaluate the text:
- Is the argument logical?
- Is the text well-organized, clear, and easy to read?
- Are the author's facts accurate?
- Have important terms been clearly defined?
- Is there sufficient evidence for the arguments?
- Do the arguments support the main point?
- Is the text appropriate for the intended audience?
- Does the text present and refute opposing points of view?
- Does the text help you understand the subject?
- Are there any words or sentences that evoke a strong response from you? What are those words or sentences? What is your reaction?
- What is the origin of your reaction to this topic? When or where did you first learn about it? Can you think of people, articles, or discussions that have influenced your views? How might these be compared or contrasted to this text?
- What questions or observations does this article suggest? That is, what does the article make you think about?
Step 3. Plan and write your critique
Write your critique in standard essay form. It is generally best not to follow the author's organization when presenting your analysis, since this approach lends itself to summary rather than analysis. Begin with an introduction that defines the subject of your critique and your point of view. Defend your point of view by raising specific issues or aspects of the argument. Conclude your critique by summarizing your argument and re-emphasizing your opinion.
- You will first need to identify and explain the author's ideas. Include specific passages that support your description of the author's point of view.
- Offer your opinion. Explain what you think about the argument. Describe several points which you agree or disagree with.
- For each of the points you mention, include specific passages from the text (you may summarize, quote, or paraphrase) that provide evidence for your point of view.
- Explain how the passages support your opinion.
(based on: Rosen, Leonard J. and Laurence Behrens, eds. The Allyn & Bacon Handbook. 1994).
by Chelsea Lee
Any sleep-deprived student knows those papers don’t write themselves. A living, breathing, person must produce the words on the page, and in certain contexts, you have to acknowledge that fact in the text itself. Let’s go through several cases of how to write about yourself in an APA Style paper.
General Use of I or We
It is totally acceptable to write in the first person in an APA Style paper. If you did something, say, “I did it”—there’s no reason to hide your own agency by saying “the author [meaning you] did X” or to convolute things by using the passive “X was done [meaning done by you].” If you’re writing a paper alone, use I as your pronoun. If you have coauthors, use we.
However, avoid using we to refer to broader sets of people—researchers, students, psychologists, Americans, people in general, or even all of humanity—without specifying who you mean (a practice called using the editorial “we”). This can introduce ambiguity into your writing.
For example, if you are writing about the history of attachment theory, write “Researchers have studied attachment since the 1970s” rather than “We have studied attachment since the 1970s.” The latter may allow the reader to erroneously believe that you have personally studied attachment for the last 40 years (which may be difficult for those dear readers under 40).
If you want to refer to yourself as well as a broader group, specify to whom we refers. Write “As young adults in college, we are tasked with learning to live independent lives” not “We are tasked with learning to live independent lives.” By stating that we refers here to young adults in college, readers understand the context (which could otherwise be any number of groups tasked with the same, such as individuals with developmental disabilities or infants).
Use of I or We in Personal Response or Reaction Papers
A common assignment in psychology classes is the personal response or reaction paper. The specifications of these assignments vary, but what they all have in common is that you are supposed to critique and/or give your personal thoughts about something you have read. This necessitates using the first person. In the professional psychology world, a similar type of paper exists, and it is called a Comment or a Reply.
The excerpt below illustrates how the first person should be used to express personal opinions. Here, South and DeYoung (2013), the authors, respond to papers by Hopwood (2013) and Skodol and Krueger (2013).
|Research seems to be converging on a trait-dimensional system that can capture the majority of personality pathology, and this phenotypic work is supported by extant behavior genetic findings. We must ask, though, whether the ability to capture all multivariate personality pathology space with one structural model is sufficient for capturing disordered personality. Hopwood (2013) rightly pointed out that there is something unique about a personality disorder (PD) above and beyond traits, but in the DSM–5 (American Psychiatric Association, 2011) proposal the only difference between describing someone with a constellation of pathological traits and a PD “type” is the Criterion A requirement of impairment in self and interpersonal functioning. Skodol and Krueger (2013), partly in jest, suggested that PDs could conceivably be diagnosed on Axis I. We get the joke but worry that in an attempt to ameliorate the problems with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., text rev.; DSM–IV–TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000) PDs a new system risks losing the forest (PD) for the trees (traits).|
Notice how the authors state their opinions and reactions: They use plain, straightforward language. If you are tasked with writing a personal response paper, you can do the same. The authors have also used the pronoun we because there are two of them; if a single author had written this passage, she or he would have used the pronoun I.
It’s less hard than you might think to write about yourself in APA Style. Own your opinions by using the appropriate pronouns. If you have further questions about this topic, please leave a comment.
|South, S. C., & DeYoung, N. J. (2013). The remaining road to classifying personality pathology in the DSM–5: What behavior genetics can add. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 4, 291–292. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/per0000005|