Answer Guide

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Answer guide for PSY241 paper critiques

You should include the following subheadings in the order that they are presented. Below each subheading are suggestions of questions which should be considered under that subheading when writing your review. There may be papers where not all of the points are relevant and you do not need to stick to the order in which they are presented under each subheading.


What is the theory?

What is the specific aspect being tested (the hypothesis)?

Who is doing this?

Why are they doing it? Background, motivation


What was done? Describe the procedure

What were the stimuli?

What was manipulated? What were the IV(s) make it clear which are the control condition(s)? Why were these needed

What was measured? What were The DV(s)

What was the design? Within, between, longitudinal, etc

Who was tested? any specific populations?

What did these variables operationalise? The relation of the DV to the theory


Describe the results

Focus on any important comparisons (e.g. between groups)

Mention which differences are statistically significant and the direction of the effect (e.g., which condition showed significantly greater or smaller improvements)

Mention which differences, or lack of differences, are important

Mention the size /importance of the differences

Was the statistical analysis appropriate? (*)


Summarise the conclusions and relate the findings to the hypotheses of the study

Summarise the inferences drawn and if appropriate provide your own evaluation of the implications

Assess plausibility of this finding:

  • a) given what you know, what most people would assume
  • b) given what previous research has shown (*)

Pay attention to the detail to what is being claimed. Assess the logic

Are there any alternative possible explanations for the finding?

Make an argument about how plausible these are

Mention any particular strengths of the study

Mention any particular weaknesses of the study

Criticisms which may have specifically distorted the results of the study in question are particularly important

Most interesting are criticisms which you have proposals about how to deal with

Make suggestions for improvements in the research but be realistic in proposing any next steps. How could you do better with similar resources?

Devise a systematic structure to group your critiques

Always relate back to the specific claims under question

Relate to background reading, subsequent research or research in related but different areas (*)


Full reference, in APA style, for all citations given in the text.

Everything cited should be referenced at the end, everything referenced should be cited.

There may only be one item here - the original paper

Items marked with a star (*) are hard to do without background knowledge of the area. The only way to get this background knowledge is to read around the topic. You can get a good grade without addressing these points, but if you want a first you should try and do these things.