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Critical Review Sample Essay On Career

Here is a sample extract from a critical review of an article. Only the introduction and conclusion are included. We thank Suwandi Tijia for allowing us to use his critical review in this resource.

[1] A Critical Review of Goodwin et al, 2000, 'Decision making in Singapore and Australia: the influence of culture on accountants’ ethical decisions', Accounting Research Journal, vol.13, no. 2, pp 22-36.

[2] Using Hofstede’s (1980, 1983 and 1991) and Hofstede and Bond’s (1988) five cultural dimensions, Goodwin et al (2000) conducted [3] a study on the influence of culture on ethical decision making between two groups of accountants from Australia and Singapore.[4] This research aimed to provide further evidence on the effect of cultural differences since results from previous research have been equivocal. [5] The study reveals that accountants from the two countries responded differently to ethical dilemmas in particular when the responses were measured using two of the five cultural dimensions. The result agreed with the prediction since considerable differences existed between these two dimensions in Australians and Singaporeans (Hofstede 1980, 1991). [6] However the results of the other dimensions provided less clear relationships as the two cultural groups differed only slightly on the dimensions. [7] To the extent that this research is exploratory, results of this study provide insights into the importance of recognising cultural differences for firms and companies that operate in international settings. However several limitations must be considered in interpreting the study findings.


[8] In summary, it has to be admitted that the current study is [9] still far from being conclusive. [10] Further studies must be undertaken, better measures must be developed, and larger samples must be used to improve our understanding concerning the exact relationship between culture and decision making.[11] Despite some deficiencies in methodology,[12] to the extent that this research is exploratory i.e. trying to investigate an emerging issue, the study has provided some insights to account for culture in developing ethical standards across national borders.


[1] Title and bibliographic details of the text

[2] Introduction

[3] Reporting verbs

[4] Presents the aim/purpose of the article and Key findings

[5] Sentence themes focus on the text

[6] Transition signals provide structure and coherence

[7] Reviewer ’s judgement

[8] Conclusion summarises reviewer’s judgement

[9] Modality used to express certainty and limit overgeneralising

[10] Offers recommendations

[11] Concessive clauses assist in expressing a mixed response

[12] Qualifies reviewer’s judgement


Language features of the critical review

1. Reporting verbs and phrases

These are used to tell the reader what the author thinks or does in their text.

Komisar begins his article claiming that the new teaching machines represent a new kind of encounter.1

2. Modality

Modal verbs and other expressions are used to express degrees of certainty and probability (from high to low). Writers use modality to present ideas as opinions rather than facts.

The word ‘theory’ has an honorific status. … The same could probably be said for ‘practice’. 1

3. Conceding (Concessive clauses)

Here an adverbial clause can be used to describe a circumstance that is in contrast or unfavourable to another circumstance. In academic writing, concessive clauses are one way (there are others!) to acknowledge the strength/ validity of an idea before presenting an alternate view. This does not weaken your critique; rather it can show balance and fairness in your analysis.

Though by no means the first empiricist among the Greek philosophers, Aristotle stood out among his contemporaries for the meticulous care with which he worked. 2

(Adapted from:

1 Hyman R (Ed) 1971, Contemporary thought on teaching, Prentice-Hall, New Jersey.

2 Dunbar R 1995, The trouble with science, Faber & Faber, London.)


For study purposes, it’s likely that you’ll be asked to carry out a critical review of one or more journal articles. You may be directed to a specific journal article, or asked to select one based on your own research on a particular topic, or on a topic of your choice.

If you’re given options to make a choice, you’re more likely to achieve the required outcome if you use well-known academic journals. These might be found in a library, on HR websites such as HR Focus, or via any online journal hosting service, such as EBSCO which is provided free to CIPD members via our website [link].

An article will only be useful for a critical review assignment if the author has stated what the question was, how the research was done and the outcomes or conclusions based on the facts and evidence listed.

What is a journal?

A journal (sometimes also called a ‘periodical’) is a publication produced on a regular continuing basis - it may be weekly, monthly, quarterly (every 3 months) or annually.

The titles of journals (for example The Journal of Occupational Psychology) indicate the main topic focus of the articles contained in it.

As they are published regularly, journals usually have volume and issue numbers, and sometimes months, to identify them.

  • a volume usually covers a specific year – so, for example, volume 45 may be all the issues published in 2013.
  • an issue number refers to a specific instalment of the journal within that volume – they are often numbered issue or number 1, 2, 3, etc.
  • as well as, or instead of, a volume and issue number, some journals use the month of publication. This information is often crucial in finding specific articles.

There are two main types of journal:

  • Academic journal (also called scholarly journals) - these often contain research articles written by subject experts; they contain academic commentary and critical evaluation of issues by experts. The articles will be written in an academic style and they may be ‘refereed’ or ‘peer-reviewed’ – that is they articles are assessed, often by members of an editorial board who are experts in the field, before they are accepted for publication. Articles from this type of journal are usually suitable for a critical review exercise. The International Journal of Human Resource Management and Harvard Business Review are examples.

  • Trade or professional journals - these usually contain news articles and comment on current issues. The articles often contain practical information and are written in everyday language. They also often have a ‘jobs’ section and news of people in that profession. They are likely to be written by journalists rather than academics and don’t usually have such rigorous publishing criteria. These articles may not be so suitable for a critical review exercise. People Management is an example.

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