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Critical evaluation checklist

When you read you must adopt a critical perspective. How much attention you pay to a particular study will depend on its relevance to your research. The following list of questions can help you to be critical and to evaluate a research article. Note that not all articles will require such detailed analysis. Note too that not all the following sections will be found in every article: the structure of articles varies considerably from discipline to discipline.

Abstract

  1. Is the abstract intelligible?
  2. Does the abstract clearly describe the objectives and results obtained/conclusions reached?

Introduction

  1. Is there a clear reason for doing the study? Has a ‘gap’ in the field been identified?
  2. What research questions are asked?
  3. What are the article’s aims and objectives?
  4. Has the author reviewed relevant literature, including conflicting or alternative viewpoints?

Methods

  1. If standard methods are used, are adequate references given?
  2. Have any methods been modified? Were the modifications described fully?
  3. Are new methods described in sufficient detail for you to repeat or extend the study?
  4. Are reasons given for using specific methods?
  5. Are potential problems/limitations with the methods highlighted?
  6. Are the methods used appropriate with respect to the objectives of the study?
  7. Are any controls used?