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Critical Analysis Of Research Papers Articles

Critique of a Research Article

The goal of this activity is to give you an opportunity to apply whatever you learned in this course in evaluating a research paper. Warning!!!!You might have done some article summaries or even critical evaluation of some resources. However, this activity is unique because you evaluate a research article from a methodology perspective.

For this assignment you briefly summarize and extensively evaluate the attached educational research article (If you cannot download the article please go to BeachBoard/Content/Articles to download the article). 

 

This assignment should be done individually. In the summary section, you should write a brief (up to 500 words) summary of the article in your own words. Don’t use copy and paste try to rephrase. This will be a good practice for your final project’s literature review. In the critique section, you evaluate the article using the following grading criteria.

Grading criteria for research critique

In your summary, you should identify main elements of the research including

1.        Research problem

2.        Research goal

3.        Hypothesis

4.       Research Questions

5.       Research Method (briefly explain)

6.       Sample (participants)

7.       Variables

8.       Tools (instruments, tests, surveys)

9.       Main findings (brief summary of the results)

10.   Conclusion

The critique part should be 2-3 pages (1000-2000 words) and include to the following sections. Your critique should be longer than your summary and you pay special attention to the design and procedure. Your grade on this assignment is based on your answer the following questions.

There is a long list of questions. You don’t have to address all questions. However, you should address highlighted questions. Some questions are relevant to this article some are not. I listed so many questions simply because I’d like you to learn what to look for in evaluating a research article.

The format of your paper should NOT be like a Q & A list. Instead, you should integrate your answers into an essay format similar to the given examples.

Introduction


Problem

1.     Is there a statement of the problem?

2.     Is the problem “researchable”? That is, can it be investigated through the collection and analysis of data?

3.     Is background information on the problem presented?

4.     Is the educational significance of the problem discussed?

5.     Does the problem statement indicate the variables of interest and the specific relationship between those variables which are investigated? When necessary, are variables directly or operationally defined?


Review of Related Literature

1.     Is the review comprehensive?

2.     Are all cited references relevant to the problem under investigation?

3.     Are most of the sources primary, i.e., are there only a few or no secondary sources?

4.     Have the references been critically analyzed and the results of various studies compared and contrasted, i.e., is the review more than a series of abstracts or annotations?

5.     Does the review conclude with a brief summary of the literature and its implications for the problem investigated?

6.     Do the implications discussed form an empirical or theoretical rationale for the hypotheses which follow?

 

Hypotheses

1.     Are specific questions to be answered listed or specific hypotheses to be tested stated?

2.     Does each hypothesis state an expected relationship or difference?

3.     If necessary, are variables directly or operationally defined?

4.     Is each hypothesis testable?

Method
         Subjects

1.     Are the size and major characteristics of the population studied described?

2.     If a sample was selected, is the method of selecting the sample clearly described?

3.     Is the method of sample selection described one that is likely to result in a representative, unbiased sample?

4.     Did the researcher avoid the use of volunteers?

5.     Are the size and major characteristics of the sample described?

6.     Does the sample size meet the suggested guideline for minimum sample size appropriate for the method of research represented?     


Instruments

1.     Is the rationale given for the selection of the instruments (or measurements) used?

2.     Is each instrument described in terms of purpose and content?

3.     Are the instruments appropriate for measuring the intended variables?

4.     Is evidence presented that indicates that each instrument is appropriate for the sample under study?

5.     Is instrument validity discussed and coefficients given if appropriate?

6.     Is reliability discussed in terms of type and size of reliability coefficients?

7.     If appropriate, are subtest reliabilities given?

8.     If an instrument was developed specifically for the study, are the procedures involved in its development and validation described?

9.     If an instrument was developed specifically for the study, are administration, scoring or tabulating, and interpretation procedures fully described?


Design and Procedure

1.     Is the design appropriate for answering the questions or testing the hypotheses of thestudy?

2.     Are the procedures described in sufficient detail to permit them to be replicated by another researcher?

3.     If a pilot study was conducted, are its execution and results described as well as its impact on the subsequent study?

4.     Are the control procedures described?

5.     Did the researcher discuss or account for any potentially confounding variables that he or she was unable to control for?

 


Results

1.     Are appropriate descriptive or inferential statistics presented?

2.     Was the probability level, α, at which the results of the tests of significance were evaluated,

specified in advance of the data analyses?

3.     If parametric tests were used, is there evidence that the researcher avoided violating the

required assumptions for parametric tests?

4.     Are the tests of significance described appropriate, given the hypotheses and design of the

study?

5.     Was every hypothesis tested?

6.     Are the tests of significance interpreted using the appropriate degrees of freedom?

7.     Are the results clearly presented?

8.     Are the tables and figures (if any) well organized and easy to understand?

9.     Are the data in each table and figure described in the text?


Discussion (Conclusions and Recommendation)

1.     Is each result discussed in terms of the original hypothesis to which it relates?

2.     Is each result discussed in terms of its agreement or disagreement with previous results

obtained by other researchers in other studies?

3.     Are generalizations consistent with the results?

4.     Are the possible effects of uncontrolled variables on the results discussed?

5.     Are theoretical and practical implications of the findings discussed?

6.     Are recommendations for future action made?

7.     Are the suggestions for future action based on practical significance or on statistical

significance only, i.e., has the author avoided confusing practical and statistical

significance?

8.     Are recommendations for future research made?

 

Make sure that you cover the following questions in your critique even if you have already covered them in your crtique.

1.   Is the research important? Why?

2.   In your own words what methods and procedures were used? Evaluate the methods and procedures.

3.   Evaluate the sampling method and the sample used in this study.

4.   Describe the reliability and validity of all the instruments used.

5.   What type of research is this?  Explain.

6.   How was the data analyzed?

7.   What is (are) the major finding(s)? are these findings important?

8.What are your suggestions to improve this research?

 

Help

Here is a hint on how to evaluate an article.

Use this resource for writing and APA style.

Examples (please note some examples are longer than what is expected for this article)

·         Good example

·         Poor example

More examples

·         Original article

·         Article critique

 

Writing a critical review of a journal article can help to improve your research skills. By assessing the work of others, you develop skills as a critical reader and become familiar with the types of evaluation criteria that will be applied to research in your field and thus your own research.

You are expected to read the article carefully, analyse it, and evaluate the quality and originality of the research, as well as its relevance and presentation. Its strengths and weaknesses are assessed, followed by its overall value. Do not be confused by the term critique: it does not mean that you only look at the negative aspects of what the researcher has done. You should address both the positive and negative aspects.

If your lecturer has given you specific advice on how to write a critical review, follow that advice. If not, the following steps may help you. These steps are based on a detailed description of how to analyse and evaluate a research article provided by Wood (2003) in her lab guide.

This guide is divided into two parts. The first part, "Researching the Critique," outlines the steps involved in selecting and evaluating a research article. The second part, "Writing your Critique," discusses two possible ways to structure your critique paper.

A. Researching the Critique

The questions listed under many of the subheadings in this section may provide you with a good place to begin understanding what you are looking for and what form your critique might take.

1. Select a Topic

If your lecturer does not assign a topic or a particular article for you to review, and you must choose a topic yourself, try using a review article from your field. Review articles summarize and evaluate current studies (research articles) on a particular topic. Select a review article on a topic that interests you and that is written clearly so you can understand it.

2. Select a Research Article

Use the review article to select a research article. This can be very useful in writing your critique. The review article will provide background information for your analysis, as well as establishing that the research paper you are critiquing is significant: if the paper was not so highly regarded, it would not have been selected to be reviewed.

When choosing a research article, examine the Materials & Methods section closely and make sure you have a good grasp of the techniques and methods used. If you don't, you may have difficulty evaluating them.

3. Analyse the Text

Read the article(s) carefully. As you read the article(s) use the following questions to help you understand how and why the research was carried out.

  • What is the author's central purpose? Look at INTRODUCTION.
  • What methods were used to accomplish this purpose (systematic recording of observations, analysis and evaluation of published research, assessment of theory)? Look at METHODS.
    What were the techniques used? and how was each technique performed?
    What kind of data can be obtained using each technique?
    How are such data interpreted?
    What kind of information is produced by using the technique?
  • What objective evidence was obtained from the author's efforts (observations, measurements etc.)? What were the results of the study? Look at RESULTS.
    How was each technique used to obtain each result?
    What statistical tests were used to evaluate the significance of the conclusions based on numeric or graphic data?
    How did each result contribute to answering the question or testing the hypothesis raised in the introduction?
  • How were the results interpreted? How were they related to the original problem (author's view of evidence rather than objective findings)? Look at DISCUSSION.
    Were the author(s) able to answer the question (test the hypothesis) raised?
    Did the research provide new factual information, a new understanding of a phenomenon in the field, a new research technique?
    How was the significance of the work described?
    Did the reported observations/interpretations support or refute observations or interpretations made by other researchers?

(Adapted with permission of Professor Susan Lollis, Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, University of Guelph. Source of questions in each section Wood, 2003)

4. Establish the Research Context

Once you are reasonably familiar with the article, it is important to gain an understanding of the research context, both societal and intellectual. To establish the research context, questions such as the following should be addressed:

  • Who conducted the research? What were/are their interests?
  • When and where was the research conducted?
  • Why did they do this research?
  • Was this research pertinent only within the authors' geographic locale, or did it have broader (even global) relevance?
  • Were many other laboratories pursuing related research when the reported work was done? If so, why?
  • For experimental research, what funding sources met the costs of the research?
  • Was the selection of the research topic influenced by the source of research funding?
  • On what prior observations was the research based? What was and was not known at the time?
  • How important was the research question posed by the researcher?

For more detailed information on how to answer these questions, see Labs 4 and 5 (Wood, 2003).

5. Evaluate the Text

After you have read the article and answered the questions in the previous section, you should have a good understanding of the research undertaken. You can now begin to evaluate the author's research. Making judgements about someone else's work is often the most difficult part of writing the review. Many students feel that, because they are new to a discipline, they do not have enough knowledge to make judgements of other people's work.

The following checklist may assist you:

INTRODUCTION

  • Read the statement of purpose at the end of the introduction. What was the objective of the study?
  • Consider the title. Does it precisely state the subject of the paper?
  • Read the statement of purpose in the abstract. Does it match the one in the introduction?
  • Check the sequence of statements in the introduction. Does all the information lead coherently to the purpose of the study?

METHODS

  • Review all methods in relation to the objective(s) of the study. Are the methods valid for studying the problem?
  • Check the methods for essential information. Could the study be duplicated from the methods and information given?
  • Check the methods for flaws. Is the sample selection adequate? Is the experimental design sound?
  • Check the sequence of statements in the methods. Does all the information belong there? Is the sequence of methods clear and pertinent?

RESULTS

  • Examine carefully the data as presented in the tables and diagrams. Does the title or legend accurately describe the content? Are column headings and labels accurate? Are the data organized for ready comparison and interpretation? (A table should be self-explanatory, with a title that accurately and concisely describes content and column headings that accurately describe information in the cells.)
  • Review the results as presented in the text while referring to the data in the tables and diagrams. Does the text complement, and not simple repeat, data? Are there discrepancies between the results in the text and those in the tables?
  • Check all calculations and presentation of data.
  • Review the results in light of the stated objectives. Does the study reveal what the researcher intended?

DISCUSSION

  • Check the interpretation against the results. Does the discussion merely repeat the results? Does the interpretation arise logically from the data or is it too far-fetched? Have the faults/flaws/shortcomings of the research been addressed?
  • Is the interpretation supported by other research cited in the study?
  • Does the study consider key studies in the field?
  • Are there other research possibilities/directions suggested?

OVERVIEW

  • Reread the abstract. Does it accurately summarize the article?
  • Check the structure of the article (first headings and then paragraphing). Is all the material organized under the appropriate headings? Are sections divided logically into subsections or paragraphs?
  • Are stylistic concerns, logic, clarity and economy of expression addressed?

(adapted from Kuyper, 1991)

6. Establish the Significance of the Research

Finally, it is important to establish whether the research has been successful – has it led to new questions being asked, new ways of using existing knowledge? Are other researchers citing this paper?

The following questions should be answered:

  • How did other researchers view the significance of the research reported by your authors?
  • Did the research reported in your article result in the formulation of new questions or hypotheses (by the authors, by other researchers)?
  • Have other researchers subsequently supported or refuted the observations/interpretations of these authors?
  • Did the research make a significant contribution to human knowledge?
  • Did the research produce any practical applications?
  • What are the social, political, technological, medical implications of this research?
  • How do you evaluate the significance of the research?

To answer these questions look at review articles to find out how reviewers see this piece of research. Look at research articles to see how other people have used this work; what range of journals have cited this article? For more detailed information on how to answer these questions, see Lab. 8 (Wood, 2003).

B. Writing your Critique

Two possible approaches

You have completed your analysis and evaluation of the journal article. How do you then put all this information together? If your instructor has not provided a format for your critique, there are two possible ways you might present it.

Approach (A)

If your instructor is concerned that that the article be clearly situated within the social and intellectual research context, then you might present it in the following way:

Introduction

In the introduction, cite the journal article in full and then provide the background to this piece of research, establishing its place within the field. Use the answers to the questions in Establish the Research Context to develop this section.

Body

Follow the structure of the journal article. Evaluate each section of the article — Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion — highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each section. Use the answers to the questions in Evaluate the Text to develop this section.

Conclusion

In this section, sum up the strengths and weaknesses of the research as a whole. Establish its practical and theoretical significance. Use the answers to questions Establish the Significance of the Research to develop this section.

Approach (B)

Another common way to structure a journal article critique is the following:

Introduction

In the introduction, cite the journal article in full and provide a summary of the journal article. Use the answers to the questions in the section Analyze the Text to develop the summary.

Body

Follow the structure of the journal article. Evaluate each section of the article – Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion – highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each section. Use the answers to the questions in Evaluate the Text to develop this section.

Conclusion

In this section, sum up the strengths and weaknesses of the research as a whole. Establish its practical and theoretical significance. Use the answers to questions Establish the Significance of the Research to develop this section.

References

Kuyper, B.J. (1991). Bringing up scientists in the art of critiquing research. Bioscience 41(4), 248-250.

Wood, J.M. (2003).Research Lab Guide. MICR*3260 Microbial Adaptation and Development Web Site. Retrieved July 31, 2006, from http://www.uoguelph.ca/mcb/teaching/micr3260/research_lab/guide.shtml

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