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Critical Reading
Examples of critical reading
Excerpt 1 (from an academic journal)1
Is the methodology valid here? Critical readers would question whether the sample size was big enough to fulfil the aim of this study. They would also question whether the sample was representative enough of the wider population, as the criterion for inclusion in the population sample perhaps created an unrepresentative group. The personality type that is willing to participate in a study of this kind may suggest subjects that are already highly involved in patient participation, thus skewing the survey results. The aim of the study was to describe how patients perceive involvement in decisions concerning their own treatment and nursing care.
A convenience sample of 12 patients was selected from three mixed-sex medical wards. The only criterion for inclusion in the study was a willingness to participate.
Excerpt 2 (from an academic journal)1
Has the author overgeneralised the results here?
The author has used the findings from a very small sample size, that may not represent a sufficient range of patients, to support a major line of argument about how patients view collaboration. The authors are inferring that the results gained from surveying these patients can be generalised to all patients.
Each interview was tape recorded and took between 60 and 90 minutes to complete. After each interview, the tape was listened to and transcribed. During this period, hunches or working hypotheses were identified which were explored in subsequent interviews. The major theme of 'toeing the line' was identified that provides insight into how patients view 'collaboration'. The remainder of this paper will focus on an exploration of this theme and its significant implications for nursing.
Excerpt 3 (from an academic journal)1
The idea in this first sentence in a Nursing article is most probably informed by research in Sociology or Anthropology.
bullet Where is the reference?

Are these the author's ideas presented as fact? The writer here is writing as if his or her interpretation were absolutely the truth, instead of just an interpretation.
The value systems of individuals and of societies can be said to have dominant temporal focuses. Societies in which hospital sickness and other disasters are seen as visited upon the individual by angry gods, spirits, or ancestors hold a dominant temporal focus on the past. Societies in which causes and consequences are disregarded in favour of immediate gratification and symptom hold a present temporal focus. Societies that show considerable anxiety about the implications and consequences of present situations, to experience little anxiety relief at the removal of a symptom, and need to plan and work toward future eventualities hold a future temporal focus.
Excerpt 42 (from a popular health journal)
The author appears to be linking common feelings of sadness and melancholy with depressive illnesses such as bipolar disorder and SADS.
bullet Is this factually correct?
bullet By linking these things does the author mean to invoke fear in the reader?
Gloom and doom; sadness and madness; melancholy; doldrums; languor; sorrowfulness - depression has many names. Often described as the common cold of psychiatry, depression is a very common problem and, indeed, it is a rare human being that does not feel depressed at some time. There are many different types of depression, with widely differing symptoms. Depression can be unipolar (medical language for 'simple') or bipolar. The latter is also known as manic depression and one variant of it is manic depressive psychosis. Then there is SADS, or Seasonal Affective Disorders Syndrome. There is also PPD (post-partum depression) and endogenous (from within) and reactive depression. This last means you are depressed because that is how you react to something that has happened to you.
Excerpt 52 (from a popular health journal)
A critical reader of this article would ask why the author has suddenly switched to informal language where one might have expected formal language to continue.
bullet Is he/she attempting to first blind the reader with science and then build a personal relationship with the reader?
bullet Why?
The metabolism of tyrosine is dependent on a form of folic acid (biopterin) and NADH (a type of Vitamin B3) as well as copper and vitamin C. Once tyrosine reaches the neurons, it is quickly converted to norepinephrine. This last, but crucial step, however, needs the presence of an enzyme (tyrosine hydroxylase) at the presynaptic nerve ending. This enzyme has to travel all the way down the axon to get there. So its availability, and therefore the output of norepinephrine to life the depression, depends on the amount of electrical activity along the nerve itself. This electrical activity is stimulated by any form of touch - chiropractic, osteopathy, massage, acupuncture, cuddling, stroking and, of course, sex. In case you think this is one of the best excuses for sex you've ever read - you're darn right!
Excerpt 63 (from a weekend newspaper article)
What evidence does the author provide to support his or her argument?

Is there evidence provided supporting this?

Would you accept this as fact? Why?

Is this the author's opinion or fact?
Teams are not magic. They must have tasks that are achievable within a specified time frame. The team charged with 'management' has an impossible brief and will surely fail unless effort is spent spelling out what the management task involves and what constitutes success.

Neither are teams a cheap option. They inevitably consume resources and time. Teams rarely resolve conflict. More often, they pressure-cook it.

If an individual has the skills to do the job with the requisite creativity, then the individual, not the team, should do the job.
Excerpt 73 (from a weekend newspaper article)

Who says leadership is back in fashion?

Is this assumed knowledge within the discipline of Management?

This point is stated as fact.
bullet What theory is it based on?
bullet Do you agree with it?
A third illusion is that leaders are not necessary in good teams. Leadership is back in fashion. But people in teams often argue that good teamwork makes leadership redundant. Explicit or strong leadership behaviour is seen as contrary to the notional equality of teams.

This illusion and the lack of leadership it produces is one of the worst things that can happen to a team. It ensures an obsession with internal power relations and a team without a champion. A leader is the team's link with the wider organisation and the vital conduit for resources, support and credibility. Teams need help to understand how their leadership requirements change and how to make the most of the leadership resources distributed among members.

1 Waterworth S. & Luker K.A. (1990) 'Reluctant collaborators: do patients want to be involved in decisions concerning care' Journal of Advanced Nursing, 15, pp. 971-976.

2 Vayda, W. (1989) 'Causes and Cures for Depression' WELLBEING, No. 32, pp. 47-50.

3 Sinclair, A. (1990) "Myths about teamwork" The Weekend Australian, April 7-8, 1990, p30. News Limited.

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