Evaluation exercise A
Read the following ’general interest’ text, which is taken from a non-academic source.
If you were to criticise this on an academic level, what weaknesses could you identify? Can you identify and note down at least three? Keep in mind the Critical Evaluation checklist (you may wish to print this out to have next to you as you read through the text below).
Adapted from: MacRae, F. (2005) ‘The dieters destined for failure’ Daily Mail, 2 December
The research report would have many weaknesses if it were considered as an academic report rather than a newspaper report. They include:
- Much essential information is not given eg paragraph 4 (How much do levels of leptin fall?); paragraph 10 (How many healthy volunteers? How were they selected? How old were they?); paragraph 11 (How much leptin were they given? How? When?).
- No published, dated sources for this research, or previous studies, are given.
- As the report mainly concentrates on conclusions rather than detailed evidence, methodology etc., it is difficult to judge whether the evidence is interpreted correctly.
- The main conclusion in paragraph 2 is too general and not scientific (‘It’s all because of our hormones’).
- The final conclusion in paragraph 15 does not follow from the evidence in paragraphs 13 and 14: (‘losing just an hour or two of sleep might be enough' does not justify the conclusion ‘are at very high risk of becoming obese’)
- The report lacks detailed data and few statistics are given.
- The research has been funded by a Pharmaceutical company, which might indicate some bias.
- There is an overall lack of caution in the report. Academic writers are normally more cautious: ‘our levels of leptin fall’ could be replaced by ‘our levels of leptin tend to fall’ ‘you are never able to sustain’ could be replaced by ‘many people find it difficult to sustain’
- The overall written style is informal and unacceptable, eg ‘It’s all because’, ‘it won’t help you’, and ‘we don’t get enough sleep’.
You may be able to think of additional criticisms.