“ bad ” journal articles provided W r i t i n g

“ bad ” journal articles provided W r i t i n g

An evaluation of both the “good” and “bad” journal articles provided in the Learning Resources this week. For each article, analyze the elements of the study that made it a good or bad article.

Being able to critically review an article for inclusion in a literature review is a skill a researcher needs to develop. It can be easy to read an article and take its claims at face value, not taking a deeper look at what the authors are saying, or failing to say. Credibility as a researcher comes from including quality research in a review so it is imperative that the researcher is selecting research that has been vetted and contributes meaningfully to their current study. Walden University Writing Center (2014) offers several tips to develop the skill of critical reading and these include reading with a purpose and strategically, knowing what constitutes a good article. Similarly, Stadtlander (2015) and Galvan and Galvan (2015) offer suggestions for reading each section of an article critically, looking for the presence of certain elements. For example, in the literature review section of an article, the reader should be able to ascertain what the social problem is, what theories the author is using, and finally, the research questions to be addressed by their study. In the methods section, the research method should be clearly identified, the population being observed, the sampling strategy utilized, and data collection strategies. Lastly, the references should be scrutinized for their reputability. For instance, the reader should note if there are references cited outside of the authors, if they are recent, and if they come from reputable journals and other sources that are considered credible by the field. Further, Walden University (2015a) suggests evaluating the authors and the affiliations they have, other publications they have written, and any other presence they might have in the field. The publisher should be evaluated for credibility. This could mean the date of the publication and how recent the findings are, if the source has been peer-reviewed, and if it is scholarly versus popular. Lastly, the content of the article should be evaluated for its basis on facts, unbiased language, and if the claims can be verified.

In McGillivray et al. (2015), the article can immediately be recognized as being published by a peer-reviewed journal, Psychology and Aging. They did cite an array of other research besides themselves, most of it within five to 10 years of the publication date. They included the appendix of all the trivia questions they presented to the participants. They did offer one area of potential further research but did not explicitly discuss limitations to their study. The language appeared unbiased and factual. They do not make claims that their findings proved anything, rather how it added to the body of literature on the subject.

In Beauchamp et al. (1998), the authors did not have any credentials listed. It was unclear where the university was located. The works cited were typically older than five years, with one or two being within four to five years. The authors assert that based on their findings, the treatment should become widespread, even though their study is the only one. This type of bold assertion should be approached cautiously, especially with such a small sample size of only 50 people from one area of the country. Additionally, several participants quit the study, further minimizing the ability for the results to be generalizable. The methods section detailed what appears to be unethical applications of the treatment, where participants appeared to need help after being exposed to the treatment conditions. Further, the assessment measure utilized was standardized for a different population than the participants. This makes the validity and reliability of the measure questionable for use in this study. The language was biased and the authors’ opinions on the subject were apparent in the writing. The authors did not discuss limitations to their study and made a blanket statement that the treatment should be implemented everywhere.


Beauchamp, M., Greenfield, M. D., & Campobello, L. (1998). Treatment of flying phobia: Comparative efficacy of two behavioral methods. In Meltzoff, J. (Ed.), Critical thinking about research: Psychology and related fields. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Galvan, J. L. & Galvan, M.C. (2015). Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences (6th ed). Glendale, CA: Pyrczak.

McGillivray, S., Murayama, K., & Castel, A. D. (2015). Thirst for knowledge: The effects of curiosity and interest on memory in younger and older adults. Psychology and Aging, 30(4), 835–843.

Stadtlander, L. M. (2015). Finding your way to a Ph.D.: Advice from the dissertation mentor. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Walden University Library. (2015a). Evaluating resources: Resource types. Retrieved from http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/library/evaluating

Walden University Writing Center [WUWritingCenter]. (2014, January 15). WriteCast episode 5: Five strategies for critical reading [Video file]. Retrieved from http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/multimedia/podcast#s-lg-box-2814414

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