How to Critique a Research Paper for Undergraduate Level?

Critique a Research Paper
Critiquing a research paper for the undergraduate level is not too difficult as it is almost same as writing a PhD dissertation. The complexity level is less in undergraduates than for a doctorate. Though the complexity is less, you still have to follow some steps to critique a research paper. Today, I will discuss the steps that a researcher needs to follow. These should be ensured before critiquing a research paper. Also, what are some of the things that he needs to consider?

Before we jump into the steps, let’s define critique. A critique critically evaluates a research paper, and reflects upon it. A critique is a written analysis of a research paper. The important task here is identifying strengths and weaknesses of the research paper. A critique also assesses how well the author of the research paper interprets his sources. To critique a research paper, an individual should be a critical thinker as well.

Key Aspects of a Critique

As described earlier, there are some aspects that you need to consider to critique a research paper. They are four in number. A brief description of the four key aspects of a critique are as follows;

Understanding the Purpose and Problem

The first key element that you need to consider to critique a research paper is understanding the problem. A thorough understanding of the purpose and problem of the paper is crucial. It is because this thorough understanding will help you in writing an effective critique. You should read the whole research paper first. It will allow you to get an entire sense of the study, and its contribution to scientific knowledge as well. While critiquing a research paper, you need to ask yourself the following questions;
  • What is the whole phenomenon of the study?
  • Do the purpose and problem match with the research questions?
  • Are ethical considerations included within the research paper?

In this part, you will find an answer to these questions. The answers are themselves critique. Thus, you always start to critique a research paper by understanding the purpose of the study.

Determining the Application of Methodology

The next step is determining whether proper methodology is applied or not? It is necessary to allocate because it directly relates to the research questions. The methodology of a research paper answers the research question. In simple words, a methodology involves the nuts and bolts of a research paper.

To critique a research paper, the researcher also needs to understand the methods applied properly. The data collection methods can be secondary, or primary. So having a thorough knowledge of the methodology used is vital to critique a research paper. A researcher should ask himself the following questions for determining the methodology’s application;
  • Is research methodology described in the research paper?
  • Are data collection methods described within the paper?
  • Are the data collection methods appropriate for the study?

The researcher needs to find answers to these questions. The answers to these questions are themselves critiqued within a research paper. Hence, to critique a research paper, determining the application of the methodology is crucial.

Assessing the Outcomes and Conclusions

The third aspect of critiquing a research paper is the assessment of outcomes, and conclusions. The outcomes of research papers should be believable. The researcher finds out whether findings support the outcomes or not. To critique a research paper, the researcher needs to find relation between outcomes, and the study’s purpose. He can only critique a paper effectively when he asks himself these questions;
  • Are the research questions addressed within outcomes of the paper?
  • Are findings of the study clearly described?
  • Do outcomes and conclusions of the study match with the study’s purpose?
Answering these questions will enable the researcher to write an effective critique. Hence assessing outcomes and conclusions of the study is a vital part of critique.


Discussion on Overall Research Paper

The main purpose of critiquing a research paper is to test its strengths and weaknesses. A researcher will also critique the overall quality, and limitations of the study. He will do this, keeping in view the purpose of the study. The researcher should ask himself these questions.
  • How do the research’s results fit into the research?
  • What are limitations of the study?
  • Are there any recommendations for practical application of the study? Hence, to critique a research paper, a researcher needs to consider the study’s limitations as well.
Albert Barkley

Hello, my name is Albert Barkley. I am working as education consultant with a UK based firm after completion of my PhD. I like to write on different social, tech and education trends.

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