Critical Friend

This week we have been working on analyzing different journal articles and looking at consistencies and inconsistencies within the articles. We have been asked to be the author’s critical friend. I didn’t think it was appropriate to criticize these types of publications before. I thought that, because their were in peer-reviewed journals that they were the gospel. With this assignment, our instructor, Elizabeth Childs, provided us with the freedom to be critical, review the data, that methods, the conclusions, etc. and to form our own opinion on how relevant the information provided might be. I also thought that being in a peer reviewed journal meant that these articles were read by many people.  That again is not true.  In their blog, Biswas and Kichher (2015, April 9) suggest that many articles are never read and some maybe only 10 times. They also suggest that even though the article has been cited, it may not have been read all the way through. In completing this assignment I was surprised at how critical my reading was – I went in a bit bias I must admit to finding something wrong. I guess that isn’t always a bad thing. Blindly following isn’t a good way either.

So, to the authors I have criticized – I hope you will consider me a friend.


Biswas, A., & Kirchherr, J. (2015, April 9). Citations are not enough: Academic promotion panels must take into account a scholar’s presence in popular media. [Web log post].


4 thoughts on “Critical Friend

  1. I found that article by Biswas and Kirchherr to be quite interesting. The stats they quoted were a bit disappointing, to say the least. One of my blogs is on the topic of peer-reviewed journals and how useful they are if very few people actually read them. I think that, until one becomes part of this journey, one puts academia on a pedestal. And, of course, we don’t belong there, and likely most of us don’t even want to be there! For me, I just want to learn, and share my learning so I can hear what you have to say. Then I add that to my own learning, turn the ideas over, digest them, reject some and adapt others, constantly spiralling the ideas around to enrich how I understand the world. If what I put out to the world is simply accepted with everyone nodding their heads in agreement, I actually don’t learn anything. It’s only when people put their spin on what I’ve shared that my learning increases. That’s the benefit of the “critical friend.” I think the term is mislabeled. It should be called “learning friend.”


  2. As I read this blog post, I have not completed the critique assignment yet. I also worry at the validity of questioning the research of scholars that have been published and are peer reviewed. However, as I read the articles assigned for this essay, I can see that being published and peer reviewed does not make one’s research perfect. As George said in the research panel discussion, research is only trying to understand one small part of a bigger picture. It is unrealistic and even foolish to consider that any given research project is exactly as it should be, or right in its methods and conclusions.


  3. This is my struggle Patricia, making a critical comment, I didn’t look at it as a critical friend.Maybe that will help me with the critical comments in 502’s paper.
    My problem here is that I don’t feel that I am versed or educated enough on the topics/journals we are reading to make those types of conclusions or statements. It is a lot harder than I thought it would be. When I think about being a critical friend with our group, in my mind it is reviewing a friends/cohorts paper helping with APA citations, spelling, and phrasing. When we are working on the same topic I worry about taking from their paper and implementing the points in mine.So I would pair up with someone who was taking on a different learning theory or epistemological position than mine so that we didn’t fall into that trap of possible plagiarism.


  4. I appreciate that you bring this up Patricia, I admit to having similar feelings regarding research articles. In the past, when reviewing a research article and finding something that confused me, I would very quickly assume it was that I was unable to understand what they were trying to say, and move on. I too assumed that peer-reviewed meant, ‘bullet proofed’, so I was surprised to hear about statistics on how few times some articles are actually read.

    Having been reading, citing, and referencing articles for over a month, I can absolutely relate to the fact that researching may cite a portion of an article without reading it in entirety. Research data and methods in some of the articles I have cited have been incredibly complex, and there have been articles where I have not read through the data and compared it to the author’s conclusions to verify their research outcomes. In these cases, I’m trusting the conclusions the author has drawn are the same conclusions I would draw when critically evaluating their research methods and data. Would I be so trusting if I were going to use their research in a secondary research paper I was authoring myself?

    As a critical friend to others, the challenge I offer to myself before reviewing any body of work is to be as brutally honest as I can, and offer as many alternative perspectives on grammar and form as possible. This means that as a consumer of research, I can also be critical of the process in which the research presents the information for me to consume. And from what I’m finding, I agree with Biswas and Kirchherr (2015), brevity IS central!


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