A journal critique will become necessary in graduate and doctoral school. Knowing the basic format will help you to write a more successful critique.
Once you get out of high school and into higher level education you will likely find that your professors ask you to locate an article written, verified, and reviewed for factual accuracy. This kind of article is called a 'peer-reviewed' article and can make or break an academic factual paper.
As you begin your academic writing you should also know that you may be required to critique those same articles. The following items should be included in all journal article critiques in order to fully explain your choice of the article and why it would help or not help you with your own research.
Remember that this paper is a critique. You are not writing a book report, but rather are writing a summary of the article, what you appreciated in it and what could use more work, more information, or better explanations. You do not have to be brutal, but if you find problems this is the format in which to address those problems.
The abstract is like a little mini-introduction to your paper. Rarely, if ever, are citations included in an abstract. The desired length for this part of the paper is between 150 to 250 words, but keep it as brief as you can. You'll have plenty of room in your introduction for more specifics. Primarily the abstract should contain the point you are trying to make. In a critique you should line out what you are looking for and how you believe the article will benefit you. The abstract is on its own page. The body of the paper continues on the next page.
Here is where you go into greater detail about the article, what the topic is, who wrote it, and use citations. You will discuss the relevance of the article to your own research and what you intend to address within the rest of the paper.
In this section, take a little time to address the article's author(s)' approach. You will talk about the type of research, whether referenced, qualitative or quantitative. You can discuss what the author's intent was in conducting their research. Do not go into detail over the research in this section, just allude to the type of research and the author's expected outcomes based on hypotheses.
Explain the Study
This is the meat and potatoes of the journal article. In this section you would talk about what the author's did in their research, and whether you believe that there is enough information to form adequate conclusions. Talk about the statistics, the findings, the results, and the conclusions of the author in this section. Do not forget to cite your article when you specifically speak about their findings.
Gaps in the Study
Rarely is any research project complete. In this section you can add things you would have liked to have seen in their research, what benefits or downfalls can be seen by any research that could have helped the findings. For example, one gap could be demographics in that the study may have been done on a small section of society not looking for diversity. The findings in that case would be lacking because not enough different social groups are included.
Potential for New Research
After you find gaps in the study, the next logical step would be to determine what direction the author(s)' article should go in for further information, research, and findings. Using the above demographic example, the author could suggest a multi-cultural research project in order to improve the diversity of the findings.
Academic papers typically require a conclusion. In this section you will summarize the article's benefits and weaknesses as well as your personal opinions about the gaps and future potential for the paper. This should be about the same length as the abstract, but it is a continuation of the body of the critique.
Most times the only reference you will have is the article you are critiquing. However, if you used additional sources in order to back up your critique and comments then they would be included in this section.