ASSESSMENT 1 WORKSHEET
Critical Review Task
§1 OVERVIEW OF INSTRUCTIONS:
Length: 1500 words (not including references or subheadings)
The Critical Review Task asks you to map out your chosen academic field. It’s a
bit like a “literature review”, except here you follow a specific list of sub-headings.
It’s a training exercise that will lay the foundation for all future assessments and
Students must provide well-written summaries on the following
1. Summary of chosen discipline or research area (including brief history of the field)
2. Major journals in the field (with brief description) – at least three (3)
3. Major professional organizations in the field (with description of activity) – at least one (1)
4. Literature in the field relevant to your research question/area
5. Discussion of methodologies used in this field/area
6. Statement about possible research directions
** ALL SUBMITTED ASSESSMENTS MUST USE THE ABOVE
The Critical Review Task builds your ability to synthesize multiple texts in concentrated space –
a key feature of academic writing. The short word limit is a productive constraint that forces
you to summarize.
The task is “critical” because of the final section (6) where you offer a statement on possible
directions for future research. This shows your ability to critically engage with the field, not
merely describe it. Students do not need to outline a full research project – just explain
possible research directions.
§ 2 INFORMATION ABOUT THE SUB-HEADINGS
This section contains information and research tips for each subheading. (See the Sample
Assessment for how the advice translates to an actual paper.)
1. Summary of chosen discipline or research area (including brief
history of the field)
• Provide a short description of the field of study (or research area) you have chosen to enter.
It could be something broad like “Behavioural Psychology”, “Ecohydrology”, or
“Migration Studies” – this is a field of study. Or it could be more narrow – if you are
confident you can identify a research area within an existing field, e.g. “Gene Expression
in Cancer Cells” (instead of molecular biology), “Postcolonial Film Theory” (instead of
film studies), or “The Dark Triad” (instead of psychology). The research area must still
be broad enough for you to address the requirements of each subheading – if it is too
narrow you won’t be able to do this. (You can discuss your specific research
question/topic in subheadings 4-6 of the Assessment.)
• The field of study (or research area) should be indicated in the title of your Assessment. See
the Sample Assessment for an example.
• You must describe the field or area – what is it? What does it study? What does it
investigate? What is it trying to achieve? Is it a big field or a small one? TIP: For
examples of how to describe a field, look at any Wikipedia entry on an academic field of
study (e.g. “theoretical physics”). Even better, find an academic encyclopaedia from your
area and see how it describes the field. You can cite an encyclopaedia but not
Wikipedia, so be sure to look for good academic resources.
• You must also describe the history of the field – when did it become an academic area? Are
there important moments in the constitution of the discipline? Was it
created/revolutionized by a specific person or group of people? How has the field grown
since its creation? What is the status of the field today? TIP: There are academic
sources for the history of every field – however – they may not be sources you would
usually cite in your work. But to get good marks in this section, you must demonstrate
solid research into the history of your field/area. If you are struggling to find material,
consult the liaison librarian for your School/Institute and ask for advice.
• This section must contain references or you will not get a good mark.
2. Major journals in the field (with brief description) – at least
• List three (3) major journals in your field. If describing a field of study, list three important
journals that represent the field. If describing a research area, list three important
journals where discussions about the area take place.
• Each journal needs a brief description of 1-3 sentences. There are plenty of things you could
mention – the important thing is to show you know something about this journal and
that you can write about it in good academic prose. Some things you might consider:
when was it founded? How central is it in the field? Is it liked to a specific professional
organization? Does it have an impact factor?
• References are not required for this section (but can be used if necessary).
• See the Sample Assessment for examples.
3. Major professional organizations in the field (with description
of activity) – at least one (1)
• List one professional association in your field – e.g. The Australian Historical Association, The
International Sociology Association, The American Psychological Association, The American
Society for Cell Biology, etc.
• Ideally it will be the major professional organization in your field – which means they will
probably run a journal, and will almost certainly host an annual conference.
• You must provide a 1-4 sentence description of the association and its activities. Again, there
are lots things you might say – the important thing is to show you have done some
research into what the organization is about. Most organizations contain basic
information on their website (it is fine to cite an organization’s website as a reference in
this section, especially if you are quoting them).
• Most major organizations will have something written on their history either in journal
articles or disciplinary encyclopaedias. Citing these will earn better marks than just citing
an organization’s website. If you really get into it, look at books on the history of your
field – they usually talk about the formation of relevant associations.
|Academic Level||College (3-4 years: Junior, Senior)|
|Paper Type||Annotated bibliography|
|Number of Pages||3 Page(s)/1650 words|