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How to Critique Journal Articles in the Social Sciences

How to Critique Journal Articles in the Social Sciences

A succinct guide to critically evaluating research in the social sciences that makes research interesting, rather than intimidating

September 2013 | 136 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
This brief, introductory book provides readers with a step-by-step guide to reading and understanding a social science research article. The author demonstrates the many strengths of social research, including its advantages over ordinary ways of knowing things, and, at the same time, points out that research is inevitably flawed. Rather than naively assuming that good research simply produces “The Truth” or cynically asserting that research is hopelessly biased and futile, this book instills in readers a critical perspective—one that appreciates the strengths and weaknesses of any piece of scholarship. 

1. Social Research vs. Ordinary Ways of Knowing
2. What is a Journal Article?
3. Defining Key Terms
4. Literature Reviews
5. Measurement
6. Sampling
7. Analysis
8. Ethics
9. Politics
10. Why Read Journal Articles—And Think Critically about Them?

“[The book] provides an accessible introduction to thinking about the place of peer-reviewed research by scaffolding student’s learning on to what they already know from personal opinion, newspapers and websites.”

Alex Bowers
The University of Texas at San Antonio

“The author does a fantastic job of simplifying complex concepts and jargons so the lay person can understand them.”

Osabuohien Amienyi
Arkansas State University–Jonesboro

“It is readable and comprehensive and helps students understand the main way researchers and academics write and think about knowledge and research.”

Kevin Borders
Spalding University

“The one main theme that I liked as I read the book is how the author took a real-world approach to research and using evidenced-based sources while incorporating critical thinking skills and reflection.”

Brian Christenson
Lewis-Clark State College

“The breezy tone and appropriate use of examples throughout the text make this an unusually accessible and useful text for students. I don’t know of another resource that addresses this topic as well for LIS students.”

Chad Morgan
North Carolina Central University

This book is a gem! It provides students with concrete information about reading and evaluating research articles.

Dr Thomas Frederick
Department of Psychology and Counseling, Hope International University
February 4, 2014
Key features


  • The book is a brief, easy to read and understand, step-by-step guide on how to read and understand research reported in journals.
  • The author guides readers through the questions they should be asking themselves as they read an article so they can make an informed decision about the quality of the research.
  • The presentation helps students learn to identify the strengths and weaknesses of any piece of scholarship, while giving them the skills needed to approach journal articles with confidence.
  • The author includes reasons why students should be personally motivated to read and use journal articles in their education, careers, and personal lives.
  • Exercises are included that allow readers to work with journal articles or prompt important class discussions.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Sage College Publishing

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