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Evidence-Based Research

Appraisal Resources

Appraisal Resources

Evaluating Research

Three questions to answer when reading the research

  1. What was the research question and why was the study needed?
  2. What was the research design?
  3. Was the research design appropriate for the question?

Here are some other things to think about when reading your research 

  1. Title
    1. Does the title give any insight as to what the article is about?
  2. Introduction
    1. Is the problem being studied clearly stated?
    2. Is there a review of previous literature related to this study?
    3. Did the author identify a gap in the literature?
    4. Is there a hypothesis stated?
    5. Is the purpose of the study stated?
  3. Method
    1. Are the subjects well described?
    2. How was the sample selected?
    3. How large was the sample?
    4. Was a control group used?
    5. Is the procedure laid out in detail?
    6. Could someone replicate the study from this description?
    7. Is the data analysis well described?
  4. Results
    1. Are the measured data summarized?
    2. Are the results statistically significant?
    3. Are the results valid? see Terminology >
    4. Are the results reliable? see Terminology >
  5. Discussion
    1. Was the hypothesis accepted or rejected?
    2. Were there weaknesses in the study discussed?
    3. Are other articles or studies cited which address the findings?
    4. Were any suggestions made for further study on this topic?
  6. Conclusion
    1. Are the results briefly restated?
    2. Do conclusions make sense based on the results and discussion?

Terminology

  • Hypothesis - a statement that is believed to be true but has not yet been tested.
  • Independent variable - the component of an experiment that is controlled by the researcher (for example - a new therapy).
  • Dependent variable - the component of an experiment that changes, or not, as a result of the independent variable (for example - the existence of a disease).
  • Bias - prejudice or the lack of neutrality.  A systematic deviation from the truth that affects the conclusions and occurs in the process or design of the research.
  • Confounding -a mixing of the effects within an experiment because the variables have not been sufficiently separated.  Possible confounding variables should be discussed in the report of the research.

Validity

  • Internal validity is the extent to which the experiment demonstrated a cause-effect relationship between the independent and dependent variables.
  • External validity is the extent to which one may safely generalize from the sample studied to the defined target population and to other populations.

Reliability

  • Reliability is the extent to which the results of the experiment are replicable.  The research methodology should be described in detail so that the experiment could be repeated with similar results.