Characteristics to note in the rubric:

  • Language is descriptive, not evaluative.
  • Labels for degrees of success are descriptive ("Expert" "Proficient", etc.); by avoiding the use of letters representing grades or numbers representing points, there is no implied contract that qualities of the paper will "add up" to a specified score or grade or that all dimensions are of equal grading value.
  • The professor provides this to the students when the assignment to critique an article is given as a tool for them to self-check their critiques.

Download Critique of a Scientific Article Rubric

Evaluation of Critiques of Scientific Articles

Expert Proficient Apprentice Novice

Clearly summarizes the aims of and methods used by the authors.

Summary is complete, but lacks clarity.

Picture communicated is not clear; connection to paper is not obvious.

No real introduction.

Data presentation

There is a clear understanding of experimental design, especially controls. It is also clear that you understand what was observed and how it relates to the authors' model or hypothesis.

Some parts of the experiments have not been understood. You may not have a clear grasp of the model being tested, or the relevance of the data

There are significant gaps in understanding, or inaccuracies in reporting the data. You have shown some understanding, but there are clearly large parts of the paper that you haven't mastered.

Hurriedly done, with little understanding.


There is a clear understanding of the authors' interpretation, of the implications of the results for the hypothesis. Outside information is brought to bear on evaluating the design and conclusions.

Not quite as clear an understanding. Less complete evaluation of design and conclusions.

Uncritical acceptance of authors' conclusions. Or baseless objections to them.

Little or no mention of authors' intent. Little or no evaluation.


You have selected the data most relevant to the authors' aims. Your conclusions actually make results clearer.

Although the most relevant data are selected, your picture of the authors' aims and conclusions is not quite as clear and/or complete.

Some of the data you have selected do not seem as relevant to the overall aims of the paper. You seem to have missed some important parts.

Lack understanding of the paper or its context. Authors' aims are unclear.


No spelling or grammatical errors.

Very few spelling or grammatical errors.

Errors on almost every page.

Apparently no proofreading done.

J. Cardon