Is This Better Than Their Average Critique


Is This Better Than Their Average? A Critique of Williams and Gilovich (2012)

How to Critique an Article
General Considerations for Writing a Critique
Read the article at least twice: once to get a general idea, and one more time, in detail. Whenever possible, present both arguments and counter-arguments (other possible explana- tions or points of view for your criticism)
Be concise
Use plain language
Avoid \I think that…” { instead, use de nite language, and back it up with logical arguments and citations to relevant sources when necessary
Speci c Considerations
 What are the most serious downfalls of the research in the article?
 Does the title of the article accurately represent its content?
 Does the abstract clearly summarize the article?
 Is the introductory section relevant to the research conducted in the article?
 Does the experimental setup make sense, and is it justi ed?
 Are the results interpreted correctly?
 Are the results summarized in the discussion in the larger context of past research, and tied
to the introduction?
 Is any of the text of the article unclear/ambiguous?
 Have the authors been objective in their discussion of the topic?
 Is the purpose of the research important to the eld?
 Are the experimental methods described well enough that they could be replicated?
 Are the experiments conducted appropriate to answer the questions asked?

A Brief Introduction to APA (American Psychological Association)


  • Language/ Style
  • Avoid subjective statements when possible (e.g., “I believe that…”)
  • Use active voice (e.g., “We investigated phenomenon x…” rather than, “Phenomenon x was investigated…”)
  • Succinct; use plain language rather than flowery prose
  • Use scare quotes for first instance of irony, slang, or invented expression
  • I am not very “hip.”
  • Use italics for first instance of a new term or foreign language
  • No contractions (e.g., can’t, won’t)
  • “That is,” in text = “i.e.,” in parentheses
  • I injected the rats with saline, that is, salt water solution.
  • I injected the rats with saline (i.e., salt water solution)
  • “For example,” in text = “e.g.,” in parentheses
  • Use the Oxford (serial) comma
  • I spoke with the strippers, JFK and Stalin.
  • I spoke with the strippers, JFK, and Stalin.
  • Use plural pronouns
  • We gave the subject a test that he took.
  • We gave the subject a test that they
  • Capitalize proper nouns
  • Numbers: < 10, sue words; ≥ 10, use numerals
  • We tested nine participants.
  • We tested 18
  • Eighteen participants were tested (If starting sentence with a number).


  • Font size = 12 pt, Times New Roman
  • Margins = 1 inch on all sides
  • Double-spaced (including references)
  • Use two spaces following a period or colon
  • Use indentation for new paragraphs (except in Abstract)
  • Single-sided (Only print on one side of the paper)


  • Title Page
  • Abstract (Between 150-250 words) – Short little story summarizing what your paper is going to be about
  • Body
  • References

In Text Citations

  • In round brackets, usually at the end of a sentence
  • Authors’ last names, separated by a comma, and then year
  • Most modern cats require tiny mittens (Smith, Jones & Stephens, 1998).
  • 2 or fewer authors: list all authors each time
  • 3-5 authors: list all the first time you cite the source, but only first with et al., afterward
  • Tiny mittens are difficult to come by (Barrows, Clark, Philips, Mortensen & Broccard 2007). Cats that do not require tiny mittens are generally not orange (Barrows et al., 2007).
  • 6 or more authors: use the et al., structure
  • Non-parenthetical references: do not use &; Date is still in parentheses
  • Smith, Jones, and Stephens (1998) demonstrated that most modern cats require tiny mittens

Avoiding Unnecessary Filler

  • Avoid
  • “I believe that…”
  • “Everyone knows that…”
  • “It is obvious that…”
  • Instead, just state what you have to say (and back it up with citations!)
  • In text, do not write:
  • Author’s full name(s)

Instead, write, “Stevenson (1954…”)

  • Author’s professional affiliation
  • Title of the article
  • Title of the publication
  • This is why we have a reference section!
  • Avoid using direct quotes (1-2 per page 10-page paper, maximum – and better to use none)
  • Avoid Sensationalist/ Hyperbolic (Exaggerated) Language!
  • Can you imagine living in a world without disease of any kind?! Well, look no further: Magic Snake Oil is the answer to all of our problems!
  • Avoid Emotionally Biased Language (Be Neutral – Just the Facts, Please!)

Remember the Logical Foundations of Research

  • DO NOT use the word “prove” in a scientific paper!

Back up Your Claims!

  • In scientific writing, you should never just say stuff.*

Affect/ Effect

  • Affect: verb
  • This manipulation will affect the outcome of the study.
  • How have the variables been affected?
  • Effect: noun
  • What is the effect of puppies on happiness?
  • Effects, such as lower grades in classes, are often seen as the result of lack of sleep.
  • Exposure to puppies affects the dopaminergic system, which produces the effect.