Journal Critique Guideline

Scholarly Journals
        Professionals need to be able to discern the differences between scholarly journals, the popular press, and other literary sources. One reason is the difference in the level of writing: generally, the popular press is written at a sixth grade level. Many articles in the popular press are informative and enlightening. However, authors contributing to the popular press do not need to adhere to the rigorous standards required of scholars. Scholarly journals are published by professional organizations, in order to report research and advances in any given field. Articles in scholarly journals are subject to peer-review, meaning that submissions are read and reviewed by experts in the field, both prior to and after they are accepted for publication. Thus, articles written by scholars are carefully scrutinized and may be challenged by colleagues --often resulting in fascinating debates in current and subsequent issues.

        Authors publishing in scholarly journals must meet high standards in both research methodology and reporting. Unlike the popular press, where sources do not have to be cited (and are frequently omitted), in scholarly journals, authors must include citations for all sources in text and in a reference list. There are a few formats for publication that have been established, however, in the social sciences, most authors follow the publication standards established by the American Psychological Association (APA, 1994). APA requires parenthetical citations in text, such as the one included in the previous line, as well as a variety of other very specific elements. The more you read educational and psychological texts and scholarly journals, the more familiar you will become with the format. (Your textbook is written in APA style.) For APA Style Resources, see:

The Write Up
        Refer to your text for relevant topics. Your choices are rather broad but should relate to issues covered in this course. Your paper must be typed/word processed. Be sure to include a copy of the article with your report.

        Briefly summarize the article and critique it (i.e., synthesize the important constructs, objectively analyze the article, and evaluate its contribution to teaching and learning). We have a number of scholarly journals in the library, and I have also put up direct links to many articles and scholarly journals at my web site: See:

        You need not be concerned with all of the detailed intricacies of APA style. Use standard 1 inch margins and double spacing. Typically, in APA style, you would include a reference list at the end of your report. However, since your report will be referencing only one source, the format will be different. At the top of the first page of your report, write the name of the journal you will critique, in the following format, with appropriate indentations and punctuation:

Smith, D.E.,  & Jones, S. P. (1998).  The effectiveness of behavioral interventions in general
            education classroom settings: A summary of the research. Journal of Applied
            Behavioral Analysis, 29, 16-34.

       Papers should be approximately 2-4 pages, though this may vary depending upon the length of the article. Write in the past tense, as in: Smith & Jones (1998) asserted that... Keep quotes to a minimum and paraphrase the important constructs (e.g., put the main ideas in your own words). Whenever you do quote, use quotation marks and, at the end of the quote, cite the author, copyright date, and page number, such as the following: "It is very important to identify the antecedents and consequences of target behaviors" (Smith & Jones, 1998, p.52).

Some Examples of Scholarly Journals

Young Children                                                       Childhood Education
Child Development                                                 Cognition and Instruction
Topics in Early Childhood Special Education        Human Learning and Memory
Memory and Cognition                                            Journal of Early Intervention
Teaching Exceptional Children                               Cognitive Psychology
American Educational Research Journal                 Educational Researcher
Journal of Educational Psychology                          The Exceptional Child
Psychology of Learning and Motivation                   Harvard Educational Review
Review of Educational Psychology                          Psychological Review


American Psychological Association, (1994). Publication manual of the American
            Psychological Association (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.