Checklist for Critiquing Research Articles
Title and Abstract
- Does the title accurately reflect the content of the article?
- If an abstract is provided, does the abstract properly summarize the content of the article?
- Is pertinent background information presented in sufficient detail for the reader to understand the context of the research?
- Are important citations missing and is the salient literature reviewed?
- Is the background clearly and concisely written, or is unnecessary detail included?
- Does the article include clear statements regarding the purpose of research, its objectives and hypotheses?
- Is the stated hypothesis clearly derived from the rationale? Are other hypotheses consistent with the model or theory being tested?
- Are the main variables clearly defined in both positive and operationalized terms?
Participant Selection (Sampling Procedures)
- Does the article include clear statements regarding the sampling procedure used (probabilistic vs. non-probabilistic)?
- Are sample characteristics reported?
- Is the sample appropriate for the research question?
- Does the article include a statement of ethics, informed consent, or debriefing of participants?
- If deception was involved in the instructions to the participants, how were participants debriefed?
- If some participants withdrew from the study, does the article include information on possible differential attrition?
- Is the sample size adequate for the study?
- Can results be generalized from this sample to the intended population?
- In general, are the procedures appropriate to the research question?
- Are there possible confounds in the study?
- Are the procedures described in sufficient detail to allow replication?
- Is the training of raters/clinicians reported?
- If more than one measure was used, was the administration order counterbalanced? Were possible order effects addresses?
- Is there an explicit rationale for the measures selected?
- Is method selection derived logically from the hypotheses?
- Are the psychometric properties of the measures (i.e., reliability and validity) reported and are they adequate?
- If variables are scored by observers using categories or codes, is the inter-rater reliability reported?
- Are possible effect of testing and instrumentation decay addressed and/or ruled out?
Statistical Analysis and Results
- Are the statistical analyses appropriate for the research design and the types of variables involved?
- Are the assumptions of parametric tests addressed and satisfied?
- Is the sample size sufficient for the chosen statistical tests?
- Are tests of statistical significance properly used and reported (e.g., risk of type-I and type-II errors, Bonferroni adjustment, etc.)?
- Are practical significance (magnitude of effect size) and clinical significance addressed?
- Are standard error of measurement and confidence intervals reported?
- Are the results clearly explained and displayed? Are tables and figures used appropriately?
Discussion and Interpretation
- Are the results discussed fully?
- Is the discussion focused on findings, or is it digressive or speculative?
- Are limitations of the study and/or methodological biases addressed?
- Are the results generalizable?
- Are directions for future research suggested?
- Are discrepancies from previous findings in the research literature explained?
- Are possible alternative interpretations considered?
- Is the writing style understandable, clear, and appropriate to the intended audience?
- Are the various sections of the report integrated in a coherent manner?
- Do sentences and paragraphs follow one another logically?
- Are references (citations and quotations) used and identified appropriately?
Holosko, M. J. (2006a). A suggested authors’ checklist for submitting manuscripts to Research on Social Work Practice. Research on Social Work Practice, 16(4), 449-454.
Holosko, M. J. (2006b). Primer for critiquing social research: A student guide. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Hyman, R. (1995). How to critique a published article. Psychological Bulletin, 118(2), 178-182.
Oxman, A. D. (1994). Checklists for review articles. British Medical Journal, 309(6955), 648-651.
Some useful guidelines for writing article critiques can also be found at the Writing Center of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota (http://www2.smumn.edu/deptpages/tcwritingcenter/forms_of_writing/summ_crit.php): “Critiques” by Susan Katz and Jennie Skerl.