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Research Papers Hypothesis Identification Article Analysis Essay

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 research papers does not come naturally to most of us. The typical research paper is a highly codified rhetorical form [1,2]. Knowledge of the rules—some explicit, others implied—goes a long way toward writing a paper that will get accepted in a peer-reviewed journal.

Primacy of the research question

A good research paper addresses a specific research question. The research question—or study objective or main research hypothesis—is the central organizing principle of the paper. Whatever relates to the research question belongs in the paper; the rest doesn’t. This is perhaps obvious when the paper reports on a well planned research project. However, in applied domains such as quality improvement, some papers are written based on projects that were undertaken for operational reasons, and not with the primary aim of producing new knowledge. In such cases, authors should define the main research question a posteriori and design the paper around it.

Generally, only one main research question should be addressed in a paper (secondary but related questions are allowed). If a project allows you to explore several distinct research questions, write several papers. For instance, if you measured the impact of obtaining written consent on patient satisfaction at a specialized clinic using a newly developed questionnaire, you may want to write one paper on the questionnaire development and validation, and another on the impact of the intervention. The idea is not to split results into ‘least publishable units’, a practice that is rightly decried, but rather into ‘optimally publishable units’.

What is a good research question? The key attributes are: (i) specificity; (ii) originality or novelty; and (iii) general relevance to a broad scientific community. The research question should be precise and not merely identify a general area of inquiry. It can often (but not always) be expressed in terms of a possible association between X and Y in a population Z, for example ‘we examined whether providing patients about to be discharged from the hospital with written information about their medications would improve their compliance with the treatment 1 month later’. A study does not necessarily have to break completely new ground, but it should extend previous knowledge in a useful way, or alternatively refute existing knowledge. Finally, the question should be of interest to others who work in the same scientific area. The latter requirement is more challenging for those who work in applied science than for basic scientists. While it may safely be assumed that the human genome is the same worldwide, whether the results of a local quality improvement project have wider relevance requires careful consideration and argument.

Structure of the paper

Once the research question is clearly defined, writing the paper becomes considerably easier. The paper will ask the question, then answer it. The key to successful scientific writing is getting the structure of the paper right. The basic structure of a typical research paper is the sequence of Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion (sometimes abbreviated as IMRAD). Each section addresses a different objective. The authors state: (i) the problem they intend to address—in other terms, the research question—in the Introduction; (ii) what they did to answer the question in the Methods section; (iii) what they observed in the Results section; and (iv) what they think the results mean in the Discussion.

In turn, each basic section addresses several topics, and may be divided into subsections (Table 1). In the Introduction, the authors should explain the rationale and background to the study. What is the research question, and why is it important to ask it? While it is neither necessary nor desirable to provide a full-blown review of the literature as a prelude to the study, it is helpful to situate the study within some larger field of enquiry. The research question should always be spelled out, and not merely left for the reader to guess.

Table 1

Typical structure of a research paper

Introduction 
    State why the problem you address is important 
    State what is lacking in the current knowledge 
    State the objectives of your study or the research question 
Methods 
    Describe the context and setting of the study 
    Specify the study design 
    Describe the ‘population’ (patients, doctors, hospitals, etc.) 
    Describe the sampling strategy 
    Describe the intervention (if applicable) 
    Identify the main study variables 
    Describe data collection instruments and procedures 
    Outline analysis methods 
Results 
    Report on data collection and recruitment (response rates, etc.) 
    Describe participants (demographic, clinical condition, etc.) 
    Present key findings with respect to the central research question 
    Present secondary findings (secondary outcomes, subgroup analyses, etc.) 
Discussion 
    State the main findings of the study 
    Discuss the main results with reference to previous research 
    Discuss policy and practice implications of the results 
    Analyse the strengths and limitations of the study 
    Offer perspectives for future work 
Introduction 
    State why the problem you address is important 
    State what is lacking in the current knowledge 
    State the objectives of your study or the research question 
Methods 
    Describe the context and setting of the study 
    Specify the study design 
    Describe the ‘population’ (patients, doctors, hospitals, etc.) 
    Describe the sampling strategy 
    Describe the intervention (if applicable) 
    Identify the main study variables 
    Describe data collection instruments and procedures 
    Outline analysis methods 
Results 
    Report on data collection and recruitment (response rates, etc.) 
    Describe participants (demographic, clinical condition, etc.) 
    Present key findings with respect to the central research question 
    Present secondary findings (secondary outcomes, subgroup analyses, etc.) 
Discussion 
    State the main findings of the study 
    Discuss the main results with reference to previous research 
    Discuss policy and practice implications of the results 
    Analyse the strengths and limitations of the study 
    Offer perspectives for future work 

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The Methods section should provide the readers with sufficient detail about the study methods to be able to reproduce the study if so desired. Thus, this section should be specific, concrete, technical, and fairly detailed. The study setting, the sampling strategy used, instruments, data collection methods, and analysis strategies should be described. In the case of qualitative research studies, it is also useful to tell the reader which research tradition the study utilizes and to link the choice of methodological strategies with the research goals [3].

The Results section is typically fairly straightforward and factual. All results that relate to the research question should be given in detail, including simple counts and percentages. Resist the temptation to demonstrate analytic ability and the richness of the dataset by providing numerous tables of non-essential results.

The Discussion section allows the most freedom. This is why the Discussion is the most difficult to write, and is often the weakest part of a paper. Structured Discussion sections have been proposed by some journal editors [4]. While strict adherence to such rules may not be necessary, following a plan such as that proposed in Table 1 may help the novice writer stay on track.

References should be used wisely. Key assertions should be referenced, as well as the methods and instruments used. However, unless the paper is a comprehensive review of a topic, there is no need to be exhaustive. Also, references to unpublished work, to documents in the grey literature (technical reports), or to any source that the reader will have difficulty finding or understanding should be avoided.

The basics

Having the structure of the paper in place is a good start. However, there are many details that have to be attended to while writing. An obvious recommendation is to read, and follow, the instructions to authors published by the journal (typically found on the journal’s website). Another concerns non-native writers of English: do have a native speaker edit the manuscript. A paper usually goes through several drafts before it is submitted. When revising a paper, it is useful to keep an eye out for the most common mistakes (Table 2). If you avoid all those, your paper should be in good shape.

Table 2

Common mistakes seen in manuscripts submitted to this journal

The research question is not specified 
The stated aim of the paper is tautological (e.g. ‘The aim of this paper is to describe what we did’) or vague (e.g. ‘We explored issues related to X’) 
The structure of the paper is chaotic (e.g. methods are described in the Results section) 
The manuscripts does not follow the journal’s instructions for authors 
The paper much exceeds the maximum number of words allowed 
The Introduction is an extensive review of the literature 
Methods, interventions and instruments are not described in sufficient detail 
Results are reported selectively (e.g. percentages without frequencies, P-values without measures of effect) 
The same results appear both in a table and in the text 
Detailed tables are provided for results that do not relate to the main research question 
In the Introduction and Discussion, key arguments are not backed up by appropriate references 
References are out of date or cannot be accessed by most readers 
The Discussion does not provide an answer to the research question 
The Discussion overstates the implications of the results and does not acknowledge the limitations of the study 
The paper is written in poor English 
The research question is not specified 
The stated aim of the paper is tautological (e.g. ‘The aim of this paper is to describe what we did’) or vague (e.g. ‘We explored issues related to X’) 
The structure of the paper is chaotic (e.g. methods are described in the Results section) 
The manuscripts does not follow the journal’s instructions for authors 
The paper much exceeds the maximum number of words allowed 
The Introduction is an extensive review of the literature 
Methods, interventions and instruments are not described in sufficient detail 
Results are reported selectively (e.g. percentages without frequencies, P-values without measures of effect) 
The same results appear both in a table and in the text 
Detailed tables are provided for results that do not relate to the main research question 
In the Introduction and Discussion, key arguments are not backed up by appropriate references 
References are out of date or cannot be accessed by most readers 
The Discussion does not provide an answer to the research question 
The Discussion overstates the implications of the results and does not acknowledge the limitations of the study 
The paper is written in poor English 

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References

.

How to Write and Publish Papers in the Medical Sciences

 , 2nd edition. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins,

1990

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Publishing and Presenting Clinical Research

 . Baltimore, MD: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins,

1999

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, Frankel RM. Getting qualitative research published.

Educ Health

2001

;

14

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109

–117.
, Smith R. The case for structuring the discussion of scientific papers.

Br Med J

1999

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318

:

1224

–1225.

International Journal for Quality in Health Care vol. 16 no. 3 © International Society for Quality in Health Care and Oxford University Press 2004; all rights reserved

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