Guidance notes on completion of assessment These guidance notes have been put together to address some of the most frequent questions that typically arise in relation to the second module assessment: 1. What should I base the critical evaluation on? The assignment requires you to critically evaluate a recent (2011-2016) published peerreviewed research article that is related to your dissertation topic. The article does not need to address exactly the same hypothesis as your intended project dissertation; it will be fine if it is broadly in the same area (face recognition; stereotypes; social anxiety, etc.) The recommended word limit for the assessment is 1500-2000 words. The essay topic is flexible to accommodate a variety of research interests, and the article you review can focus on both qualitative and/or quantitative methodologies. Your chosen article must appear in a peer-reviewed journal (i.e. it cannot be an unpublished PhD or Masters thesis, or a conference paper or poster). The article must report primary data; i.e. the results of a study planned and reported in the article for the first time. Secondary data papers (i.e. meta-analysis), purely theoretical/conceptual papers, or published structured literature reviews are not acceptable as a basis for the assessment. If in doubt about whether your chosen article is suitable, please check with the module leader before attempting the assessment. 2. What should the critical evaluation be based on? You should critically evaluate the method, results and interpretation/conclusions presented in the article. The method refers to whatever paradigm or technique(s) the authors in the article used in order to test their hypotheses. Usually in the majority of articles the method(s) are described as part of a clearly labelled ‘Method’ section. In addition to evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the method(s) used, you should also critique how the results reported in the article have been presented and interpreted. Although you can make critical comments about the introduction to the article (for example, is the background literature fairly represented?), but careful not to spend too much time on this section. The focus should predominantly be on the strengths and weaknesses of the research reported in the article. Crucially, note that you are not required to write just a general essay evaluating different studies related to your dissertation topic. The evaluation must be focused on the specific research article that you have chosen. If you are not already familiar with them, it’s essential that you read through the lecture slides from week seven of the course (they are on the VLE under the Week 07 folder in Documents), as these contain a lot of information on how the assessment should be completed. In particular, pages 4 to 8 deal with how to go about conducting a critical evaluation. I used the Postma et al article as a worked example of how to critically evaluate an article, and this is covered in slides 9-12. Slides 13-14 also provide further information on how to complete the assignment. Remember that your assessment should evaluate both the strengths and weaknesses of your target article. Initially you should conduct a literature review on studies related to the techniques/paradigms in your target research article (your previous structured literature review assessment should be useful for this purpose). To achieve a good mark for the assessment it is essential that you critically evaluate the method, results and interpretation presented in the article rather than just describe them. You should also avoid making unsupported general criticisms – try and back up the comments you make with reference to other published work. This is important because a common mistake made by students completing this type of assessment is that they do not explain or justify their comments about the strengths and weaknesses of the target article in sufficient detail. For example, if you think that an aspect of the research is weak or problematic, an effective way to address this in your essay is to compare and contrast the research you are evaluating with other related studies published in the literature. See the slides from Lecture 7 for examples of how to do this effectively. 3. How should my assessment be structured? Because everyone is selecting their own articles to evaluate, there is no single ‘correct’ structure which the essay needs to adhere to. However, one possibility is: (1) Open with an introductory one or two paragraphs which outline the research topic under which the article you’re evaluating falls (e.g., face recognition, stereotypes, neuromodulation, or whathever it is you’ve chosen to look at) (2) Critically evaluate the article you’ve chosen. Make sure that you make clear which article it is (i.e., provide the title, authors, and which journal it appeared in. Also make sure the paper is cited in full APA format in your reference section (3) Close with a concluding section where you summarise the main points of your essay. It would also be appropriate here to state whether you consider the article you have evaluated to represent a strong or weak example of psychological research. Note that all articles discussed in your essay should be fully cited and referenced using APA format.