Evaluate the literature

Critically evaluate the literature

  • Have confidence - the more you read and understand, the more you are becoming an expert in the area and able to critique what you read
  • Remember, just because an article is published doesn't mean that it’s perfect - there will be strengths but also limitations - *TIP* - you will usually find these at the end of the discussion of most articles.
  • You will need a strong understanding of what makes sound or weak research. Revisit this if necessary.
Questions to ask:
  • Was the sample size big enough to allow findings to generalise to other populations?
  • Did attrition affect the results?
  • Were the inclusion criteria too wide or narrow?
  • Were there flaws in the research design?
  • Quantitative research: were participants randomly assigned to groups in a double blinded fashion? Was there a control group?
  • Qualitative research: Were interview guides piloted? Were measures taken to enhance the credibility of data analyses? Do the researchers declare any personal biases that may have influenced their interpretation of results?
  • Is the source credible? Is it a peer-reviewed journal or unknown website?
  • When was the article published? Is it recent?
  • Does the study explain the results (or simply just describe)?
  • Has the author(s) considered how the results apply to wider populations or practice settings?
  • Has the study addressed a ‘gap’ in the literature?
  • Are the conclusions final or preliminary? What further research is required?
  • Overall how good do you think the article is?
  • Check out our full listing of questions for more suggestions

Creative Commons Licence
PILOT - Writing a critical review by Steve Draper, Glasgow University, Dr Jane McKay, GCU modified by Marion Kelt, Glasgow Caledonian University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Based on a work at http://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/~steve/resources/crs.html.