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Posted on August 30th, 2012, by

Writing critique of empirical papers can be sometimes more difficult than even writing the paper itself because this process requires to be competent about the subject and to analyze the paper from various points of view. Also, the critique should be appropriate for the setting (academic or non-academic). The aim of this essay is to consider the process of writing critique of empirical papers and create a set of instructions that may be used for this purpose.

For any type of critique, the writer should describe the context and give brief summary of the paper first of all, i.e. the area on which the paper focuses, the questions considered, the significance of the research and its actuality. Describing main technical or conceptual ideas may be appropriate. Also, the writer should describe the results of the research, their applicability and the contribution of the author to the chosen area of study (Alley 1998). It is important to analyze the time period when the study took place and analyze the actuality of the results nowadays.

Besides importance and actuality of the research, the critique paper writer should also analyze the paper itself: structure, logical consistency, grammar and punctuation, whether the author uses proper argumentation and logic, whether the results correspond to the objectives of the study.

Empirical paper usually has a formal structure that includes sections such as Introduction, Method, Results, Discussion and Conclusion (Garson 2001). For academic settings, it is natural to discuss each section in particular and consider the pros and cons of each section. For non-academic setting, the critique may include information on al the sections, but should not be as detailed as in previous situation; in case of non-academic setting, critique should rather use clear images and explain the main ideas in less formal style. For example, in non-academic cases it is better to concentrate on basic notions and semi-informal consideration of research results.

In the section devoted to review and evaluation of the content, the writer should consider the methods used by the author and the appropriateness of these methods, the accuracy of data gathered by the author; analyze the consistency of logical arguments and author’s interpretation of the results. If there are errors in the research, or the methods were used incorrectly, this should be discussed and explained separately. In general this section should review the content of the papers, its organization, style and correctness (Peat & Elliott & Baur & Keena 2002).

Finally, the writer should analyze the contribution to the area of study done by the author and give recommendations concerning the paper.

For literature analysis, the writer should conduct a small research and identify around 5 papers on the same subject; after that, the author should review the contribution of the analyzed paper to state-of-the-art. Recommendations have to include results of the critical analysis, indicate, who will benefit from reading the paper, how important and extensive the results are and to which areas of study this paper may be applied in future.

Gathering all the above mentioned together, it is possible to create a set of instructions for writing a scientific critique for empirical paper. The writer should:

  1. Read the paper at least twice: first time as a reader, and second time as the author. The aim of this reading is to understand and evaluate what the author wanted to say, and whether he has reached the target audience.
  2. Select and review at least 5 sources on the same or similar subject.
  3. Introduction of the critique should contain author’s name, title of the paper and thesis statement
  4. Summary should contain description of research area, brief description of the papers and its results, evaluation of actuality and importance
  5. Content analysis should include review of the organization, style, correctness and logical composition of the paper
  6.  Analysis of sections should be done separately for academic setting and may be brief for non-academic setting
  7. Literature analysis contains brief review of other research in this area
  8. Recommendations include the importance of the paper, the list of readers who will benefit from reading the paper, and discuss the strong and weak points of the paper.

In general, this set of instructions may be used for writing both in academic and non-academic setting, taking into consideration the above-mentioned differences between these two styles of writing. For any writer it is important to master both techniques: academic one because this writing style allows to express the research results and ideas concisely and is generally recognized as scientific language, non-academic writing because this writing style allows the author to attract larger audience, present personal skills and results both briefly and vividly, and to transfer the academic achievements to the real-world environment.

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