How to Critique a Psychology Journal Article

Mental illness can be hard for patients, friends and family members to cope with. But understanding it better can help improve communication about the issue. One way to approach the situation is to turn to the academic journals of abnormal psychology. Mental illness is classified in psychology according to a scientific set of guidelines. Some psychology articles may be more focused on statistics than others. Some psychology journal articles may contain academic jargon, but these terms should be defined within the article. Nonetheless, avoid diagnosing mental illness without consulting a physician, since symptoms can overlap.

Go to the library and/or purchase a subscription to an academic journal of psychology. University and college library consultants can assist with searching for particular information. Articles on bipolar disorder, for example, may be found through multiple databases using library search systems allowed for use by patrons. Check out related articles and look for further information in the references section of each article. Examples of sources include the “Journal of Clinical Psychology,” the “Journal of Abnormal Psychology,” the “Journal of Counseling Psychology,” “American Psychologist,” the “American Journal of Psychology” and specialized sources like the “International Journal of Eating Disorders.”

Read the abstract or synopsis first and note the key purpose and findings of the study, which should be addressed at the beginning and end of the paragraph, respectively. The abstract is found, usually in italics, at the top of every article.

Skip over to the results or findings section of the article and review the information presented. Then, read the methods section to see how the study was conducted. Finally, read the conclusion. Carefully outline any problems the researcher seem to be noting in the conclusion and what relevance that could have for the problem at hand.

Write a summary of the article. Note the purpose and findings of the study and whether or not the findings seem accurate. According to the Blinn College Division of Social Sciences, a good rule of thumb is to comprise the written critique in two parts. The first half addressed the research, the second is reflective.

Decide what the overall conclusion of the article seems to be. For example, an article about the causes of depression might note in the conclusion section that the study had some statistical flaws. But the general point of the article might be that certain factors like genetic predisposition could be construed as causing depression.

Mental illness can be hard for patients