How do I read research articles?
Reading journal articles can take some practice. Since they're written for other experts in a field, there may be parts of them that you don't completely understand and that's okay! Here are some tips on how to approach reading journal articles (hint - you don't have to read the whole thing, and you'll likely read!)
- NSCU Libraries. (2009, July 13). Anatomy of a scholarly article. https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/tutorials/scholarly-articles/ (interactive)
- Forsmire, Michael. (n.d.). How to read a scientific paper. Purdue University Libraries. https://www.lib.purdue.edu/sites/default/files/libraries/engr/Tutorials/Newest%20Scientific%20Paper.pdf
Western University. (2012, April 26). How to read a scholarly article. [Video]. YouTube. 2:34mins
How do I critique research articles?
As you're learning about different research methods, there are certain questions you can ask yourself as you read research articles to start judging the quality of the research. Not all published research is of high quality, and it takes understanding how research is conducted to be able to tell whether a study is high quality or crap.
Reading and critiquing research - video (20mins)
General questions to consider:
- What's the study about? What is the research question, or purpose/aim of the study?
- What's the approach? What kind of study was conducted to address the research question?
- Are the authors clear in what they seek to do with this study? Do they clearly state the research purpose? Do they address how the study relates to published literature on this topic? Does this study fill a gap in the literature, build on or refute existing research?
- Do the authors' address why they did this type of study? Is the study design appropriate for this type of question?
- Is data collection clearly explained? Could someone recreate the methods from this information? Does the collected data address the research question?
- What are the author's results? Is the data analysis explained well? Is it clear how the themes and conclusions come from the data? What are the author's main findings and are they relevant to the aims of the study? Have the authors provided enough details and data for other researchers to recreate the analysis?
- Do the results support the conclusion?
- Do the authors acknowledge limitations of their study?
- Are there any conflicts of interest noted?
Critical appraisal checklists:
These are checklists for specific types of research studies. They can be helpful to provide more questions to consider for different study designs.