Scientific Journal Article Critique : Solution Essays

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Scientific Journal Article Critique

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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.


Part I.

1. Skim the article (take light notes)

·      Read the abstract. The abstract informs you of the major findings of the study, and the importance. 

·      What is the big picture of the study (this is done as you read the article)

·      Record terms or techniques you are not familiar with. 

·      Include questions to parts of the article you do not understand.

·      If you are unfamiliar with concepts discussed throughout the article, then perform a Google search.


2. Re-read the article

·      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:

·      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.

·      What was the purpose of the study? 

·      A reader who has not read your article must understand your summary.


4. Write a draft of your summary:

·      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. 

·      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

·      In your summary, include your own analysis and evaluation of the article.

·      Do not include personal opinions

·      Use professional language. For example:

Common languageDipodomys 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.  

·      How did this study answer questions proposed in the introduction section of the paper? 

·      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. “Writing Summaries and Critiques.” A Short Guide to Writing about Biology. Ed. Rebecca Gilpin. 6th ed. New York: Pearson, 2007. 130-138.

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