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PSY540 Research Guide: Critiquing the literature

Critical appraisal or critiquing the literature

The Sage Research Methods Online database (SRMO) is a good source of full text electronic Books, chapters, and articles on a range of research methodologies.  It includes a wide range of items in relation to literature review processes, and importantly how to read critically.

 An example is:

Goodwyn, A. & Stables, A. W. (2004). Learning to Read Critically: Learning to read critically in language and literacy : SAGE Publications Ltd doi: 10.4135/9781849209410

Check if the journals are peer reviewed

To check if an article comes from a peer reviewed journal:

  • Search for the journal title (not the article title) or the journal ISSN
  • Locate the journal on the results list
  • If there is a referee's jumper () in the column on the left it means the journal (and therefore the article) is peer reviewed. In the United States of America they refer to the peer review process as refereeing, hence the referee's jumper.

If you are unsure, you can always go back to the article record from your original search and get the journal's ISSN from there.

Journal Rankings

Journals can be  compared to measure their level of influence within the research community. Note that this measure applies at journal level, and not at article level. A high ranked journal may indicate that a journal is well-regarded. 

The SCImago Journal and Country Rank (SJR) database can be used to compare and rank journals. ;SCImago does not include every journal; SCImago contains only those journals indexed in the Scopus citation database.

SJR publishes a range of metrics including an h-index (the number of articles n, that have that number of citations, n), and a quartile chart for each category based on its SJR score. The quartile chart is represented in the following way green=top quartile, yellow=second quartile, orange=third quartile, red=last quartile.

Evaluating single study journal articles

Critically reviewing a research article is not just about summarising the article, but evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the article.  It also looks at the value of the research conducted in context of similar research.

The following guides show to structure and write a critical review:

Critiquing research articles - a pdf guide by Flinders University (101 KB)

Structure of a critical review - a guide from the University of NSW

Reviewing a research paper