Reading a Scientific Paper for Psychology and the Social Sciences: A Critical Guide

Pedro Cordeiro, Victor E. C. Ortuño, Maria Paula Paixão, João Marôco


Aim: A critical review of a journal article is a comprehensive evaluation of the article content, formal structure and methodological approach. Success in this task requires students to develop analytic and reflexive skills as pre-requisites to identify key research question(s), relevant findings and main conclusions reached. Critical skills are also an important aspect of a student’s academic and future professional life, yet this has been a largely overlooked component of academic training. This paper aims to provide undergraduate students with a simple and straightforward set of guidelines for reading, analysing and interpreting research articles. Content, structure and common mistakes in research papers are addressed, along with the most relevant standards for review. Conclusion: With this reference guide we hope students will be able to more thoroughly analyse and critically discuss the strengths and weaknesses of a research article.


critical review; scientific journal articles; undergraduates; theoretical study