Research Critique Guidelines Qualitative StudyProblem Statement
Identify the clinical problem and research problem that led to the study. What was not known about the clinical problem that, if understood, could be used to improve health care delivery or patient outcomes? This gap in knowledge is the research problem.
How did the author establish the significance of the study? In other words, why should the reader care about this study? Look for statements about human suffering, costs of treatment, or the number of people affected by the clinical problem.
Purpose and Research Questions
Identify the purpose of the study. An author may clearly state the purpose of the study or may describe the purpose as the study goals, objectives, or aims.
List research questions that the study was designed to answer. If the author does not explicitly provide the questions, attempt to infer the questions from the answers.
Were the purpose and research questions related to the problem?
Were qualitative methods appropriate to answer the research questions?
Did the author cite quantitative and qualitative studies relevant to the focus of the study? What other types of literature did the author include?
Are the references current? For qualitative studies, the author may have included studies older than the 5-year limit typically used for quantitative studies. Findings of older qualitative studies may be relevant to a qualitative study.
Did the author evaluate or indicate the weaknesses of the available studies?
Did the literature review include adequate information to build a logical argument?
Did the author identify a specific perspective from which the study was developed? If so, what was it?
When a researcher uses the grounded theory method of qualitative inquiry, the researcher may develop a framework or diagram as part of the findings of the study. Was a framework developed from the study findings?
Quantitative StudyProtection of Human Participants
Identify the benefits and risks of participation addressed by the authors. Were there benefits or risks the authors do not identify?
Was informed consent obtained from the subjects or participants?
Did it seem that the subjects participated voluntarily in the study?
Was institutional review board approval obtained from the agency in which the study was conducted?
Are the major variables (independent and dependent variables) identified and defined? What were these variables?
How were data collected in this study?
What rationale did the author provide for using this data collection method?
Identify the time period for data collection of the study.
Describe the sequence of data collection events for a participant.
Data Management and Analysis
Describe the data management and analysis methods used in the study.
Did the author discuss how the rigor of the process was assured? For example, does the author describe maintaining a paper trail of critical decisions that were made during the analysis of the data? Was statistical software used to ensure accuracy of the analysis?
What measures were used to minimize the effects of researcher bias (their experiences and perspectives)? For example, did two researchers independently analyze the data and compare their analyses?
Findings/Interpretation of Findings: Implications for Practice and Future Research
What is the researcher’s interpretation of findings?
Are the findings valid or an accurate reflection of reality? Do you have confidence in the findings?
What limitations of the study were identified by researchers?
Was there a coherent logic to the presentation of findings?
What implications do the findings have for nursing practice? For example, can the findings of the study be applied to general nursing practice, to a specific population, or to a specific area of nursing?
What suggestions are made for further studies?
Emphasize the importance and congruity of the thesis statement.
Provide a logical wrap-up to bring the appraisal to completion and to leave a lasting impression and take-away points useful in nursing practice.
Incorporate a critical appraisal and a brief analysis of the utility and applicability of the findings to nursing practice.
Integrate a summary of the knowledge learned.
Reference Burns, N., & Grove, S. (2011). Understanding nursing research (5th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
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