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Project: Critique Paper and Peer Review Critique Paper
Addresses Course Outcome #1

  • recognize the use of the scientific method to weigh evidence, make decisions, and solve problems
  • apply knowledge of cellular and molecular processes to understand infectious disease mechanisms
  • synthesize knowledge of microbial pathogenesis and disease prevention methods and communicate this knowledge to the community

To critically analyze scientific information presented in the popular media.

In this assignment, you will be using the following skills:

  • critical evaluation of information presented in popular media
  • evaluation of the scientific method
  • evaluation of a website
  • use of library databases/resources

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO (step by step):

STEP 1: Choose an article

  • Select an article from the list provided by your instructor. 
  • What to do if you want to choose your own article that is not on the “pre-approved” list:
  • Your article must come from a reputable web news source (such as sciencenews.org, sciencedaily.com, or newscientist.com), or from a published peer-reviewed scientific journal.
  • The article must explain a scientific study with specific details about that study. The article needs to provide actual scientific data, not just a general review of a topic.
  • You need to submit the link to the article for approval one week prior to the deadline (in the Article Critique conference).
  • Once you have submitted your choice, check back to see if it has been approved.

If you need additional information about your article, you can request a copy of the original scientific paper using the following link: request the original article with the original research from the library. (http://www.umuc.edu/library/delivered.shtml) This takes some time, so plan ahead!


  • Post your topic choice in the ARTICLE CRITIQUE conference
  • Indicate your article choice in the subject line
  • Place the complete title and URL link in the text box of your post. If you chose your own article, please include an active URL link.

Please review the course schedule for the due date. Selecting an article on time is a component of your final grade. 

STEP 2: Choosing supporting references

Choose two additional supportive sources: choose at least one website and one source found in the UMUC library database.

Web Source:

  • Use the criteria found on the UMUC library web page when evaluating your Internet source: http://www.umuc.edu/library/guides/web.shtml.
  • Your Internet source must be from a reputable site such as NIH or CDC. Do not use personal websites, blogs, or sites that are for-profit (and thus may be biased).

Library Source:

  • If you need help locating a library source for your paper, please visit the UMUC library website http://www.umuc.edu/library/database/articles.shtml .
  • You should choose only sources that have the “full-text” version available.
  • Do not use abstracts as sources, these are NOT acceptable. Abstracts are simply a quick overview to help readers decide if they want to read the full paper.
  • You should only cite and use the FULL paper as a source. Some abstracts available in the library database do not have free links to the full paper. Do not use these, as there are many other free articles available through the UMUC database.

STEP 3: Critical Analysis and Format


Your critique should be 1,200 to 1,500 words, NOT including references, titles, etc. Your paper should be well-written, organized, and demonstrate a logical flow of information. It should also be spell-checked and grammatically correct.

Critique the article: There is a useful guide to Critical Analysis located in the Science Study Skills section of the classroom (located in the Course Content area under the link for Science Learning Center).

The UMUC guide to Critical Analysis will help you with the following:

  • how to identify and challenge starting assumptions
  • how to distinguish facts from opinions
  • how to make logical assumptions from the facts presented
  • how to identify strengths and weaknesses of the experiments and data
  • how to find and sort out conflicting claims
  • how to identify key information
  • how to identify missing information and consider alternative theories
  • how to determine the relevance of the study

You may also find Cornell’s guide to critiquing a research paper helpful.

You should present your critique in the following format:

  • A summary of the article. Be sure to include:
    • Background information that led to the study. In the background you should include basic information about the topic. For example, if your article describes a study about tuberculosis, you should include a description of the disease as well as a description of the microbe that causes the disease. What are the characteristics of the organism that causes tuberculosis? Disease course? Etc. …
      • This is essentially a mini report. It should provide enough background information to give us an idea of why this research is important.
      • You should be sure that you are using reliable sources for information. You should integrate your two sources into your paper (remember in-text citations!).
  • A discussion of the science. Be sure to include:
    • What is the goal of the study?
    • Summary of the experiments done (include things such as sample size, length of experiments, dosages, etc.).
      • This should be thorough, so that the reader knows exactly what was done without having to read the article.
    • Include a brief summary of the findings of the study and why they are important.
    • Conclusions drawn from the study.
    • Are any future experiments planned?
  • Your opinion:
    • Faults, some things to consider:
      • Were there good controls? Why or why not?
      • Sample size too small or biased?
      • Conclusions not supported by experimental evidence?
      • Will this study apply to the general population?
    • If you find no faults, justify your reasons.
  • Real-World Application
    • Include your own thoughts and opinions on the topic. Relate the points/conclusions of the article to another issue in YOUR everyday life and/or to work you have completed in class. Be sure to make your contributions clear, such as “I believe …, I think …, etc.”
  • Citations. Cite all your references using APA format. http://www.umuc.edu/library/citationguides.shtml#apa  Include in-text citations. Use the following websites for help in formatting your citations:
  • http://www.umuc.edu/library/citationguides.shtml
  • http://www.umuc.edu/prog/ugp/ewp_writingcenter/writinggde/chapter5/print5-17.shtml


  • Post your completed review paper in the Article Critique conference.
  • Copy and paste your critique into the response box (and not as an attachment). ONLY text posted within the response box will be graded. Please conserve the formatting when posting.

Please review the course schedule for the due date.

STEP 4: Analysis of a classmate’s critique

Read one other student’s critique that is different than the article you chose.

  • Provide your opinion about the quality of the science/experiments in the article. Explain fully.
  • What did you learn?
  • What other questions could be asked to further this information?
  • Provide other resources (websites) or additional information related to this topic.
  • Can you relate the information to something in your own life or the news?

This is worth 5% of your grade, so your response should be thought-provoking and contribute in some way. Short responses that basically say “good job” will receive only minimal partial credit.

Be sure to review comments made to your critique and respond appropriately.

Please refer to the course schedule for due date.

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