Your first coursework assignment for PSYC5604 is a critical review of a journal
Option A: Coleman, B., Ellis-Caird, H., McGowan, J., & Benjamin, M. J. (2016). How sickle cell disease patients experience, understand and explain their pain: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis study. British Journal of Health Psychology, 21(1), 190-203. DOI: 10.1111/bjhp.12157
Option B: Kumar, K., Gordon, C., Barry, R., Shaw, K., Horne, R., & Raza, K. (2011). ‘It’s like taking poison to kill poison but I have to get better’: a qualitative study of beliefs about medicines in rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus patients of South Asian origin. Lupus, 20(8), 837-844. DOI: 10.1177/0961203311398512
These notes are designed to help you plan your review and to highlight the essential components which markers will be looking for when they come to assess your work. You are advised to read them carefully before you begin planning your assignment. A copy of this guide has been posted on the Blackboard site for this module. A final assignment Q&A session will take place at least two weeks before the deadline.
The final assignment should be between 3000 and 3500 words in length (not including your references section). This assignment comprises 60% of the module assessment. The deadline for submission of this assignment is Friday November 22nd. Full details about submission procedures and arrangements are included in the module guide. The programme handbook includes information about possible penalties if the upper word limit is exceeded by more than 10% (i.e. 3850 words).
A critical review takes as its starting point a journal article or book chapter. The source is then reviewed and analyzed within the wider context of the relevant research area. This process may be divided into four parts. First, it is necessary to situate the reading under review within its wider context, then to summarize the authors’ methods, arguments and findings, evaluate the material and, finally, conclude briefly and offer recommendations for future research directions. Some information about these sections is provided below. You will also find a copy of the assessment criteria (rubric) that we will be using to reach a mark for the assignment.
We recommend that you present your work using the following subsections:
The review should be no more than 3500 words in length. Please state the exact number of words that you have used in your submission.
TITLE You should title your work “A Critical Review of Author(s) and Year.”
CONTEXTUALIZATION of the PAPER What you are required to do here is to situate the individual paper and its findings within theory and research within contemporary academic health psychology and within the socio-political context(s) in which the individuals or communities discussed within the paper are located. It may be useful to consider the following questions when completing your review:
• Within which context(s) has the paper been generated?
• What questions are the authors trying to answer?
• How do these relate to other research in this area?
• What do we know about the socio-cultural and/or socio-economic aspects of the participants’ lives?
• In what ways do social and structural inequalities impact upon their experiences of the health-related condition, issue or behavior under scrutiny?
Normally, you would be expected to think about both theoretical and methodological issues here. You will probably need to provide some relatively descriptive information to provide an initial context. The nature of this will vary from paper to paper but might include information about a particular chronic condition, details of policy initiatives within the country where the research has been undertaken and/or some statistical data. This should not be too detailed as you have limited space, but should give the reader an initial introduction to the area. The majority of the contextualization section should draw upon psychological and sociological sources in order to provide a reasonably comprehensive overview of the academic literature in this area. To complete this aspect properly you will need to research fairly widely in the area. This will involve independent research using the book and journal stock.
You can use sources that have been mentioned in lecture sessions but we would normally expect you to look at around 12-15 additional sources. These items need to be chosen wisely. Review papers (especially those incorporating meta-analysis and meta-synthesis) and book chapters in specialist texts may be particularly useful. It is important that a good number of your sources are relatively up-to-date. Try to be discursive and evaluative when presenting related research and think about how the research fits into relevant theories and concepts. It is also important that you
synthesize arguments and research findings effectively. This should help ensure that this section remains focused and of a reasonable length.
SUMMARY Your aim here is to summarize the essential details of the paper, in other words, the main arguments, the rationale for the study and the key findings and conclusions. You will need to select out the most important points for your reader and present them coherently and concisely. Do not be tempted to simply rephrase the abstract of the published article – we want your own words, not those of the author(s).
EVALUATION In this section you are required to offer a detailed critique of the paper. You should discuss theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the paper and consider its usefulness. Try and ensure that your points are substantiated (i.e. provide evidence wherever possible). You should draw on the wider literature when reviewing the paper. The following list of questions you might want to address is not exhaustive but should be of help when you are evaluating the paper.
• What are the limitations, weaknesses and merits of the paper?
• Are the authors’ conclusions persuasive and appropriate?
• How might the study have been improved?
• Have the authors made a significant contribution to the particular area of interest?
• How do they relate to critical health psychology?
• Have they advanced our knowledge significantly? You need to make your points persuasively. Try to construct a fluent, logical argument rather than a series of isolated or disconnected points. Remember that evaluation can be positive as well as negative. It is also important to be realistic with your critique – all researchers are resource-constrained to an extent. If the papers were almost entirely without merit it is most unlikely that they would have been accepted for publication. You may find it beneficial when considering the methodological aspects of the paper to consult texts or articles that review the methods employed by the researchers.
CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS This final section should provide a concise summary or overview of the main points of your evaluation. This should lead you into a few sentences in which you make one or two suggestions for future research. These should not simply be lifted from the target paper, but should be new, or at least clear elaborations on what the authors themselves suggested. You also need to think about the findings discussed in the article. Do they have significance for the ‘real world’ (both in the country where the research was based and internationally) or the way that we think about concepts within (critical) health psychology? Do they reinforce or challenge accepted ‘knowledge’? It is important to discuss both applications and implications of the research. How might the findings be useful within health psychology and health care practice?
REFERENCES You should conclude your assignment with a comprehensive reference list which conforms to the APA guidelines. Your references section does not count towards your word count.
How will your review be assessed? A copy of the rubric that will be used in the assessment of your critical review has been posted on the Blackboard site for this module. Please also refer to the ‘General Marking Criteria for Academic Work’ in the Programme Handbook. Good luck!
These guidance notes were produced by: Dr. Iain Williamson (De Montfort University) Dr. Helene Mitchell (De Montfort University) Dr. Dawn Leeming (University of Huddersfield) Dr. Steven Lyttle (De Montfort University)