How to Critique Research Studies

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Having a research study critiqued is crucial to maintaining the integrity of the study and to verify the validity of the results. The study must meet strict standards of ethical conduct to ensure that all participants were protected from harm as much as possible during the study. Furthermore, the way the study was conducted needs to be examined to ensure that the data collected were truly unbiased. A critique should examine every aspect of how the study was conducted, from inception to experimentation to the actual writing of the report.

  • Examine the ethical and moral aspects of the study. First, check if participants were harmed in any way, physically, mentally or emotionally. Examine whether there was undue risk and whether appropriate steps were taken to reduce any risk in the study. Examine the agreements the participants undertook before the study to determine whether they gave informed consent. Finally, determine whether there was an independent review by a third party committee or board.

  • Examine the question, problem or hypothesis that the study was examining. Was the hypothesis narrow enough in scope that it could be proved or disproved with the study? Was there a bias or prediction in the way the hypothesis was stated? Was the study conducted in a way that would prove or disprove the hypothesis?

  • Examine the actual research and data collection process. What process was used? Was the process appropriate for the study or hypothesis? Were the individuals who were involved in the data collection process appropriately trained? Could subjects have been influenced in any way toward one conclusion or another by the administrators of the study? How was the data reported and what variables were recorded?

  • Examine the cited and reviewed literature used in the study. Did the study incorporate up-to-date information from a variety of sources? Did the study organize data and ideas from other reports in an easy to understand manner?

  • Write your critique of the study. Make sure to hit on the strong points and the weak points of the study, as well as how feasible the data and results were. Also touch on how the results from the study may be used in future innovations.

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