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Evaluating Research Articles Approach With Skepticism. Rebecca L. Fiedler January 16, 2002. Preview of Article. Does the abstract intrigue me to read this article? Will it be useful to me? Who are the researchers? Are they credible and unbiased? What sources did the researchers use?.

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evaluating research articles approach with skepticism

Evaluating Research ArticlesApproach With Skepticism

Rebecca L. Fiedler

January 16, 2002

preview of article
Preview of Article
  • Does the abstract intrigue me to read this article?
  • Will it be useful to me?
  • Who are the researchers?
  • Are they credible and unbiased?
  • What sources did the researchers use?
major components



Literature Review

Research Question



Summary of Results

Discussion & Conclusion


Major Components
qualitative research
Qualitative Research
  • The research is conducted in the natural setting
  • Is descriptive
  • Researcher observes a specific situation
  • Sometimes variables are manipulated, but not always
  • Goal is to gain insight or identify key variables or ask new questions for further research
quantitative research
Quantitative Research
  • Attempts to quantify key variables and relate them
  • Variables are manipulated in some way (Called a treatment)
  • Results are measured and analyzed statistically
  • Goal is to identify cause-and-effect relationships
quantitative research6

Quantitative Research

Hypothesis testing

Is it specific?

Is the nature of the research clear?

Does it reflect the content of the article?

Are the results accurately indicated?

Are the main variables clear?

Is the population clear?

  • Was the purpose clear?
  • Was the methodology indicated?
  • Were the populations and samples clearly identified?
  • Did the the abstract highlight the findings?
  • Is the purpose made clear?
  • Did the authors explain the significance of the study? (Do you agree?)
  • Clearly written and well-organized?
literature review
Does the review establish significance of the study?

Does the review address the problem area?

Is the review easy to read and understand?

Is it balanced?

Are the reviewed articles relevant and current?

Is the review comprehensive?

How credible are the cited sources? Most should be primary sources.

Literature Review
types of sources
Types of Sources
  • General references
  • Primary sources
  • Secondary sources
research question hypothesis
Research Question/Hypothesis
  • Is it clearly stated?
  • Is there a hypothesis?
  • How well is it related to the other components?
  • Is it ethical to ask?


  • Experimental
  • Survey
  • Correlation
  • Factorial study
  • Causal-Comparative
  • Regression analysis
  • Ethnographic study
methodology research design
Methodology - Research Design
  • Do the authors justify the design decisions?
  • Did they discuss the limitations?
  • Are variables identified? Dependent & independent.
  • Are any external variables identified?
  • Are those external variables controlled?
  • Was the design appropriate?
methodology samples
Methodology - Samples
  • Is the population identified?
  • Are the samples representative of that population?
  • How were the samples selected and will the techniques compromise the results?
  • Can the information be generalized to the proposed population?
methodology instruments
Methodology - Instruments
  • What instruments were used to collect the data?
  • Was the choice of instrument justified?
  • Is evidence of reliability and validity provided?
  • Were any limitations addressed?
common threats to validity
Common Threats to Validity
  • Subject Characteristics
  • Mortality
  • Location
  • Instrument
  • Maturation
  • Regression
  • Hawthorne Effect
  • History
  • Implementation
methodology procedures
Methodology - Procedures
  • Is the description of procedures robust?
  • Are there any threats to validity due to the procedures discussed?
  • Are you able to identify additional threats to validity?
  • Are there any ethical issues in the procedures?
summary of results
Summary of Results
  • Are the results reported without any interpretation first?
  • Are the results directly tied to the question, hypothesis or problem?
  • Did the author provide enough detail for you to independently check the results?
  • Is there enough description for you to interpret the results in context?
discussion conclusion
Discussion & Conclusion
  • What are are the findings? Are they clearly stated?
  • Are the findings related to the results of the study and the literature review?
  • Any weaknesses or limitations?
  • Did the authors make any statements about generalizability?
  • Recommendations for future study?
  • Are most references primary sources?
  • How many citations are offered?
  • Are the cited references recent?
  • Based on the given info, can you find them for your own review?


Very descriptive

similarities to quantitative
Similarities to Quantitative
  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Review of Literature
research problem
Research Problem
  • Did the focus of the research shift? (That’s not bad)
  • Was the shift justified?
  • Did the researchers avoid a hypothesis at the start?
  • What (if any) hypotheses were formed based on the data?
  • Often purposive. The purpose should be identified.
  • Accessibility is sometimes an important consideration. It should be named if it is/was a factor.
  • Is there a detailed description of the sample?
  • Is there a full rich description of the setting?
  • Are there biases that may interfere with the study?
  • Was there interaction between the researcher and the participants? Or was the researcher only an observer?
  • How were observers trained?
data collection
Data Collection
  • Did the researchers use more than one way to observe the same phenomenon?
  • Was there evidence of validity by triangulation?
  • Was there any quantitative data? Frequency counts are common.
  • Should be the strongest section.
  • Are procedures fully described?
  • Are they appropriate?
  • Are there any ethical concerns?
  • Are there any threats to validity?
data analysis
Data Analysis
  • Is analysis in descriptive form?
  • If so, is the description supported by the evidence?
  • Is there any quantitative data?
  • Is data provided for reader to review?
  • What were the reported results?
  • Did the researcher form a hypothesis?
discussion and conclusions
Discussion and Conclusions
  • What conclusions did the researchers reach?
  • What implications can be drawn from the research?
  • Are there suggestions for further research?
  • What limitations were mentioned?
you might want to
You might want to….
  • Use one of their suggestions for further research for your own topic
  • Replicate a research study
  • Cite the article in your own research
  • Use the research design in your own work
  • Pick up other ideas for your own research
  • Read the cited articles
my bibliography
My Bibliography
  • Girden, E. (2001). Evaluating Research Articles: From Start to Finish (2nd edition ed.). Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi: Sage Publications.
  • Goubil-Gambrell, P. (1992). A Practitioner's Guide to Research Methods. Technical Communication: Journal of the Society for Technical Communication, 39(4), pp. 582-591.
  • GraphicsLand. (2002). Squares PowerPoint template [template file]. GraphicsLand. Retrieved 1/12/02, 2002, from the World Wide Web: www.graphicsland.com
  • Lunsford MSE CO, T. R., & Lunsford MS MAPT, B. R. (1996). How to Critically Read a Journal Research Article. Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics, 8(1), pp. 24-31.
my bibliography continued
My Bibliography (continued)
  • Spyridakis, J. (1992). Conducting Research in Technical Communication: The Application of True Experimental Designs. Technical Communication: Journal of the Society for Technical Communication, 39(4), pp. 607-624.
  • Sullivan, P., & Spilka, R. (1992). Qualitative Research in Technical Communication: Issues of Value, Identity, and Use. Technical Communication: Journal of the Society for Technical Communication, 39(4), pp. 592-606.
  • Yaw, M. (2001). Notes from Fundamentals of Graduate Research in Education.
class exercise
Class Exercise
  • Divide into two groups
  • Prepare 10-minute presentation (45 minutes allowed)
    • Presentation should critique one of the following articles
      • Illustrations in User Manuals
      • Learning How to Use a Cellular Phone
  • Group presentations
bibliography management
Bibliography Management
  • File cabinet
  • Sticky notes
  • Index card file
  • Database
  • Bibliographic softwareFree downloads on web
    • EndNote
    • Reference Manager
    • ProCite