What information can you get from the title? What assumptions can you make? What ideas come to mind as to the content and perspective of the text?
Read the abstract and consider the identified key words – does it confirm or contradict your thoughts regarding the title? Have new ideas come to mind as to the content and perspective of the text?
Skim the entire text, taking note of the headings, sub-headings, table and bullet-point lists to understand how the authors have organised the content. What sections have been utilised? What indications in regards to the type of article and or content of the article do the headings give you? Are there any sections you would have expected to see that are not there, or perhaps named with a different heading?
Are there many references? How current are they? Do they represent a range of perspectives and sources? Consider (and maybe highlight) any that you think may be relevant sources to access when completing this critical review and or any that you would like to read in the future. Please note – this does not mean that you need to actually access/read each of the references, just that you should have a good idea as to the support the authors have used intheir article.
If possible, read about the authors (will require an Internet search) to learn what authority they have to write about the subject. Have the authors made other contributions to the field of study?
The following questions have been included to help you consider the content of the journal article, not as a format to follow when writing your review – do not provide ‘stand alone’ responses to each of these questions when writing your critical review:
- Why are the authors writing this article? What is the purpose of this article?
- Who is the intended audience for the writing?
- What are the key ideas/ messages/ conclusions of the article? How important might these ideas/ messages/ conclusions be to teachers working in inclusive educational environments?
- What are the authors’ key arguments and or conclusions? Are these effectively supported and or feasible? Are there ‘gaps’ in the information?
- Have the authors provided all information needed to easily understand the key arguments and or conclusions?
- Is the information fact or opinion? Are the key arguments strong or weak? Is the argument persuasive? Has the writing been appropriately supported by their research and or experts in the field? Are the conclusions convincing?
- Is the writing organised, logical, and easy to understand?
- How do the key ideas and or arguments contribute to the field of education? Positively? Negatively? Are the key messages readily usable for a teacher in a school context? Who might these messages be most relevant for? In what way?
- Do key arguments and or conclusions make sense to you? Why or why not? Is more information needed to ensure that the research has been clearly communicated and understood?
- Have the authors identified any limitations in their research? If so, do you agree with these? Are there other limitations not identified? If the authors’ have not identified any limitations, what do you see as the limitations in their research, arguments and or conclusions?
- If you were able to discuss this article with the authors, what questions would you ask (i.e.what information hasn’t been included in the article that you feel should have been)? Why do you think this information is missing?
- If you had to provide a very brief explanation of this article to a friend/colleague, what would you say?