Note: for most, if not all, of you the paper for critique will not be in your discipline area. Assume you are consumers of research

  Description Evaluation – strengths and limitations – use the set readings to help Redesign options to address negative evaluations (where appropriate)


Is the gap in the literature clearly stated


In your own words, explain the purpose of the study, and the RQs of the study. (you can use Cresswell’s (2009) research purpose template to help with this if you wish)


Include in this explanation the main theoretical constructs


Is the research purpose consistent with the stated gap in the literature?


Does the paper primarily aim to investigate:

  1. Processes or structures;
  2. Subjective experiences or meanings?



Explain the purpose of the study Strengths and limitations of the purpose of the research? Sufficiently clear, specific and understandable to permit evaluation of the design of the study? Could the research purpose and the RQs be written more clearly?


  1. Categorise the design: Note that more than one of the following may apply.


  • Case study design
  • In-depth interview design
  • Cross-sectional?
  • Longitudinal?
  • Other?
  • Combination of above?


Identify the research strategy(ies) used to answer the research questions (you can use Blaikie’s typology for this – or other typology if you wish):


  1. Inductive
  2. Deductive
  3. Retroductive
  4. Abductive


Identify the ontological and epistemological assumptions made (explicitly or implicitly)


Describe the design employed in the study What are the strengths and limitations of the design, given the research purpose and RQs

How well is the research design aligned to the stated research purpose?

Would a different /adapted design be better? If so, what changes do you suggest and why?

Data collection.

Identify the data collection strategy used:

  • Focus groups;
  • Depth Interview design
  • Observational methods
  • Critical Incident Technique
  • Q-methodology


  • How systematic were data collection procedures? Were protocols for data collections provided, e.g., interviewing protocols?


  • How were data recorded? E.g., audio recording; note taking; multiple observers or one observer?


  • Was data collection and analysis cyclical or ‘one-shot?’ Was this appropriate?


  • Were changes in data collection procedures described and justified e.g., changes in the interview protocol as a result of initial analysis?


  • Bearing in mind the previous discussion, were data collection procedures appropriate, and appropriately implemented, for the research purposes?


In summary, how dependable were data collection methods?


Describe the data collection strategy used in the study What are the strengths and limitations of the data collection procedures


How could data collection procedures be improved?


  1. Was a target population specified? Can a target population be inferred?
  2. Describe the overall sampling strategy. How was the sample chosen? If possible, label the strategy (e.g., random sampling, maximum variation sampling, homogenous sampling, extreme case sampling, revelatory case sampling, convenience sampling etc.). Was this appropriate for the study?
  3. What was the final sample size? Was a response rate provided? How can it be calculated from the information provided? Show how, or what information is lacking. Is this size sufficient for the research?
  4. Why was that sample size used? If claims of saturation were made, were they of data saturation, or of analytical or theoretical saturation? What claims were made or evidence provided that saturation was reached?
  5. Was theoretical sampling used to saturate categories emerging from a first phase of the research? If so, in what specific ways was it theoretical or purposeful? How relevant to the purposes of the study was the sampling?



Describe the sampling strategy used in the study What are the strengths and limitations of the sampling strategy How could the sampling strategy be improved?

Data Analysis.

  • Describe the procedures used to analyse the data.
  • How complete were descriptions of data collection procedures?
  • Was there any obvious information missing?
  • How systematic were data analysis procedures?
  • Were protocols for data analysis provided?
  • Were themes, concepts and codes/categories derived from the data or derived from existing theory? Is it clear how these were derived?
  • How systematically were these applied?
  • Did data analysis cycle with data collection? Were subsequent changes to themes, concepts or codes described and justified?


In summary, how dependable were data analysis procedures?

Describe the data analysis procedures What are the strengths and limitations of the data collection procedures How could data collection procedures be improved?


Knowledge claim?


  1. What does the authors claim to be true as a result of the application of their method
  2. Are the research questions answered?
  3. Are conclusions clearly linked back to the evidence within the data?
  4. In what ways does the author generalise the conclusions? On what basis are these generalisations justified? (Think about analytic generalisabilty?)
  5. Were causal claims made or inferred? How and how well met are the conditions required for making causal claims (that is, internal validity)?
  6. What procedures were undertaken to ensure/increase research trustworthiness?
  7. Are other plausible explanations possible?


What claims were made? What are the strengths and limitations of the procedures for making the knowledge claim What else might have been done to increase confidence in the knowledge claim?



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