Critique Example

Last year's class recommended that I give an example of a proposal review. Here is a review that I did a couple of years ago. The name has been omitted to protect the innocent etc.

I hope this will be of some help even though the original paper is not available. At the least it will provide a sense of the level of detail needed for a reasonable review.

Comments on title by author

by L. A. Becker

You will find penciled check marks next to citations in your text and in front of each work cited in your Reference section. You can ignore them, they are my way of matching text citations with works cited in the References.

"APA x.xx" refers to section x.xx of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fourth Edition.


___ 1. Are all the references cited in the text listed in the Reference section and vice-versa?


I didn’t find the Millon(1987) reference cited in the text. There were a couple of minor spelling differences for authors in the text and the references. I have noted them when they occurred.

There were a series of references that were "seen in" Renzi and Nichelli (1975) that did not appear in the references. This is technically correct, but, in general you should go back and read the original papers and cite them, rather than citing a secondary source. Use this type of referencing only if you cannot get the original paper. Renzi and Nichelli may have been wrong in their summaries of the original works.

___ 2. Are the text citation formats correct?

Excellent. A couple of nits (small problems) noted in the text, see pp. 3, 8, 13, & 14).

DSM-IV and DSM-III-R should be underlined (see APA, p. 202-203).

see p. 10 - "When a work has more than two authors and fewer than six authors, cite all authors the first time the reference occurs; in subsequent citations include only the surname of the first author followed by "et al." ... and the year." (APA 3.95)

__ 3. Are the Reference section formats correct?

s the journal title for Psychological Assessment correct? Is it supposed to be cited with the subtitle "A Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology?"

"Format references to brochures in the same way as those to entire books" (APA Appendix 3-A, example #33, p. 204). In the case of the "Fighting heart disease and stroke" brochure, was the American Heart Association the author? If not, then it should have been cited in the text using the first few words of the title (see APA, example # 26, p. 202).

A couple of capitalization problems noted in the references. Capitalize only the first word of a book title (and of the subtitle, if any. (APA, 3.115)

Issue numbers are included in a reference to a periodical only when the periodical is "paginated by issue" (APA, p. 195, example 2). In other words, if the journal starts renumbering each issue with page 1, then include the issue number. All APA journals use consecutive numbering across issues within a given volume.

For example, you would use issue numbers with the following journal -

Journal of Social Issues, 37(2),

but not with the following (APA) journal -

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 3, .

Psychological Assessment (p. 19) is an APA journal, so it should have no issue number. Please recheck the other journals were you have used issue numbers to see if they are, indeed necessary.

___ 4. Are the headings correct?

The headings under the Materials heading (CATI, and ILT and Shipley Knowledge Test) should be level 4 headings. Level 4 headings are used even though there are multiple paragraphs under the heading.

It should be Participants rather than Subjects on page 4.

Singular "Method" heading (rather than Methods).

The "Results" heading should not be underlined (it is a level 1 heading).

___ 5. Are there style (grammar, usage, etc.) problems?


___ 6. Are there presentation (typing, spelling, etc.) problems?

Generally very good.

___ 7. Audience: Is the paper written so that an introductory

psychology student could understand it?

The detailed anatomy section on page 3 was difficult to follow. Because you don’t come back to this level of the anatomy later in the paper I don’t think that it contributed to the understanding of your problem. Do you have a good sense of where everything is in the Gray (1990) quote?

I had the same sense about the preceding paragraph on benzodizepine receptors (also on page 3). I didn’t see how the discussion of that particular receptor was related to the "lesion site" topic of the paragraph, nor how this informed the development of your hypotheses.

I hasten to point out that an understanding of these anatomy and physiology issues are important in a broader sense. It is just that they did not make a strong contribution to understanding this particular set of hypotheses.


___ 1. Does the opening paragraph start strong? and

___ 2. Does the introduction begin broadly and then become more


The opening paragraph defines stroke and describes it seriousness. I think it is a good opening. The second paragraph sets the stage for looking at personality and memory disturbances after stroke. These two paragraphs are a strong beginning for the paper.

The next section covers brain anatomy, see my comments above in the "audience" section.

The discussion of hemispheric and intra-hemispheric specialization (Borod, 1992) is important to the development of your hypotheses. (Could the anatomy section be tied to this discussion?)

Memory impairment as a result of head injury is then discussed. You open this section with the statement that "hemispheric specialization is more substantiated in cognitive and memory functions than is emotional processing." But you didn’t go on and convince me that there was good evidence for hemispheric specialization of cognitive and memory functions. The first studies you cited (Crosson et al., 1988; Goldstein and Levin, 1995; Petrides and Milner, 1982) talked about general memory deficits, rather than hemispheric specific deficits. The studies that make hemispheric comparisons (Renzi & Nichelli, 1975; Cappa et al, 1990) seemed to give inconsistent findings.

(By the way, doesn’t the Petrides and Milner study suggests that it is the hyppocampus that is the important structure rather than the frontal lobe for their memory tasks?)

(What were the numbers of participants in those studies? I become wary of a study that focuses on a "small subset" of participants, as in the Cappa et al., 1990. Will your study improve on past research by having a substantially larger number of participants?)

You then discuss emotional and personality changes as a result of head injury. Your description of the depression data seem to be reasonably consistent. Generally, frontal damage to the left hemisphere and posterior damage to the right hemisphere appear to be related to the incidence of depression. Only the data from Sinyor et al. (1986) seem not to fit this generalization, in that they found depression related to both frontal and posterior damage, if I read the "curvilinear" statement on page 9 correctly. Given the apparent importance of the location of the damage within the hemisphere, studies that have not looked at the intra-hemisphere location of damage are difficult to interpret.

___ 3. Are the hypotheses clearly stated? and

___ 4. Does the introduction logically lead you to the hypotheses?

Hyp 1 is clearly stated.

Shouldn’t Hyp 2 should be stated with reference to the left hemisphere, rather than as a general hypothesis about anterior lesions? What about a hypothesis relating depression and anterior, right hemisphere damage?

Hyp 3 is clearly stated.

Hyp 4 is clearly stated. Wouldn’t memory loss be a cause for depression? It might be interesting (important?) to hold memory loss constant while looking for depression in the same way that many of the studies you cited controlled for cognitive and motor deficits. I think you should also consider controlling for motor deficits.

___ 5. Is the structure (outline) of the introduction clear?

Yes. Good.

___ 6. Is each citation relevant to the development of the


See my comments on the anatomy section.

___ 7. Does the study have the potential for making a significant


I think it does.


___ 1. Are the participants clearly defined?

Because the n’s for the control group are so large, you are not "matching" in the technical, statistical sense. You should state that the control participants were selected such that they approximated the stroke participants in terms of age, years of education, and gender.

If you are going to test hemispheric location hypothesis, then you will need an adequate number of participants with damage in each of the areas in which you are interested. What happens, for example, if you only get one person with damage in the anterior left hemisphere? You wouldn’t be able to make a strong case for generalization based on that small of a small sample. It may take more than the 30 you have indicated here.

___ 2. Does the procedure section read like a step-by-step script for the experiment?

Please expand the instructions that are given regarding the significant other. Who is defined as a "significant other." What are the instructions for the significant other.

___ 3. Is the operational definition of each independent

variable clearly presented?

Stroke victim or control is clearly defined.

Right and left hemisphere is clearly understood and defined. But what about anterior and posterior? How are those terms defined? When is lesion defined as anterior?

___ 4. Are the dependent variables are clearly defined?

Yes, the CATI and ILT.

___ 5. Does the research design clearly test the hypotheses?


___ 6. Can you think of any alternative explanations?

Small sample size, not enough power to test the hypotheses.

___ 7. Does the study raise any ethical issues? If so, what steps have been taken to minimize those ethical problems?

I don’t see any ethical problems.


___ 1. Are the proposed statistical analyses appropriate?

Let’s discuss this. I have a problem with the multiple t-tests on this data.

I don’t understand the ANOVA designs. Take the first 2 x 2 ANOVA design at the top of page 17. Let’s see... one i.v. must be left versus right hemisphere lesion. The other i.v. is matched controls? But, the control group n’s are so large, I didn’t think actual matching was being done? If exact matching were done, then the design could be lesion as a between subjects factor and matched control as a within subjects factor. The data for depression might look like this:

  Lesion Group
Lesion Site Lesion No Lesion
   Left Hemisphere high (n = 30) low (n = 30)
   Right Hemisphere low (n = 30) low (n = 30)

In which case, you would expect an interaction between lesion group and lesion site!

___ 2. Is each hypothesis tested?


___ 3. Do the hypothetical results match the predictions?

No. Apathy analysis does not match the hypothesis.


___ 1. Is the Human Participants Committee Form included?

___ 2. Is the Informed Consent Form included?

___ 3. Is the Debriefing Statement included?

___ 4. Are all questionnaires, surveys, tests, etc. included?