Qualitative Research Critique Formal Paper Question Guide

Qualitative Research Critique Formal Paper Question Guide

-Is the title of study clear and accurate? Explain.

-Does the title reflect the topic of interest (phenomenon) and group or community being

studied? Explain.

-Does the title reflect the group or community being studied? Explain.


-Does the abstract clearly and concisely summarize the main features of the article? Explain.


-Is the study purpose clearly/directly stated? Explain.

-What is the study purpose?


-Is the significance for the study described? Explain.

-Is the problem significant to nursing? Explain.

Introduction-Statement of Problem:

-Is the problem statement stated clearly/directly and easy to identify? Explain.

-What is the problem statement?

-Does the problem statement build a cogent and persuasive argument for the new study?


Introduction-Qualitative Method Used:

-Is the type of qualitative method stated or inferred? Explain.

-What is the type of qualitative method (phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography,

narrative theory, and such)?

-Is the qualitative approach appropriate? Consider if there is a good match between the

research problem and the paradigm, tradition, and methods. Explain.

Introduction-Research Question:

– Are the research questions present and explicitly stated? Explain. If not, are their absence

justified? Explain.

-If present, are the research questions consistent with the study’s philosophical basis,

underlying tradition, or ideologic orientation? Explain.

Introduction-Literature Review:

-Was the review thorough—did the review include all major studies on the topic? Did the

review include current research (studies published within the last three to five years)? Were

studies from other related disciplines included, if appropriate? Explain.

-Did the review rely mainly on primary source research articles? Explain.

-Was the review merely a summary of existing work, or did it critically appraise and compare

key studies? Did the review identify important trends and gaps in the literature? Explain.

-Was the review well organized? Was the development of ideas clear? Explain.

-Did the review use appropriate language regarding the tentativeness of prior findings? Was the

review objective? Did the author paraphrase, or was there an overreliance on quotes from

original sources? Explain.




-If the review was part of a research article for a new study, did the review support the need for

the study? Explain.

-If it was a review designed to summarize evidence for clinical practice, did the review draw

reasonable conclusions about practice implications? Explain.

**Refer to chapter 5 in Polit and Beck (2020) to assist when synthesizing information to

provide complete answers. Questions from Box 5.5 (Guidelines for Critically Appraising

Literature Reviews) of chapter 5 in Polit and Beck (2020).

Introduction-Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks:

– Did the article describe an explicit theoretical or conceptual framework for the study? If not,

did the absence of a framework detract from the usefulness or significance of the research?


-Did the article adequately describe the major features of the theory or model so that readers

could understand the study’s conceptual basis? Explain.

-Did the research problem, hypotheses (if any), and study methods naturally flow from the

framework, or did the purported link between the problem and the framework seem contrived?

Were deductions from the theory logical? Explain.

-Were concepts adequately defined, and in a way that was consistent with the theory? If there

was an intervention, were intervention components consistent with the theory? Explain.

-Was the framework based on a conceptual model of nursing or on a model developed by

nurses? If framework was borrowed from another discipline, was there adequate justification

for its use? Explain.

-Did the researcher tie the study findings back to the framework in the Discussion section? Did

the findings support or challenge the framework? Were the findings interpreted within the

context of the framework? Explain.

**Refer to chapter 6 in Polit and Beck (2020) to assist when synthesizing information to

provide complete answers. Questions from Box 6.2 (Guidelines for Critically Appraising

Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks in a Research Article) of chapter 6 in Polit and

Beck (2020)

Method-Protection of Human Rights:

– Was the study approved and monitored by an Institutional Review Board (IRB), Research

Ethics Board (REB), or other similar ethics review committee? Explain.

– Were participants subjected to any physical harm, discomfort, or psychological distress? Did

the researchers take appropriate steps to remove, prevent, or minimize harm? Explain.

-Was the study designed to minimize risks and maximize benefits? Did the benefits to

participants outweigh any potential risks or actual discomfort they experienced? Did the

benefits to society outweigh the costs to participants? Explain.

-Was any type of coercion or undue influence used to recruit participants? Did they have the

right to refuse to participate or to withdraw without penalty? Explain.

-Were participants deceived in any way? Were they fully aware of participating in a study and

did they understand the purpose and nature of the research? Explain.

-Were appropriate informed consent procedures used? If not, were there valid and justifiable

reasons? Explain.

-Were adequate steps taken to safeguard participants’ privacy? How was confidentiality

maintained? Were Privacy Rule procedures followed (if applicable)? Was a Certificate of

Confidentiality obtained? If not, should one have been obtained? Explain.




-Were vulnerable groups involved in the research? If yes, were special precautions used because

of their vulnerable status? Explain.

-Were groups omitted from the inquiry without a justifiable rationale, such as women (or men),

minorities, or older people? Explain.

**Refer to chapter 7 in Polit and Beck (2020) to assist when synthesizing information to

provide complete answers. Questions from Box 7.3 (Guidelines for Critically Appraising the

Ethical Aspects of a Study) in Polit and Beck (2020).

Method-Research Tradition and Research Design:

-Was a research tradition for the qualitative study identified? If none was identified, can one be

inferred? Explain.

-Was the research question congruent with a qualitative approach and with the specific research

tradition (i.e., was the domain of inquiry for the study congruent with the domain encompassed

by the tradition)? Were the data sources, research methods, and analytic approach congruent

with the research tradition? Explain.

-How well was the research design described? Were design decisions explained and justified?

Did it appear the researcher made all design decisions up-front, or did the design emerge during

data collection, allowing researchers to capitalize on early information? Explain.

-Was the design appropriate, given the research question? Did the design lend itself to a

thorough, in-depth, intensive examination of the phenomenon of interest? Explain.

-Did the researcher spend a sufficient amount of time doing fieldwork or collecting the research

data? Explain.

-Was there evidence of reflexivity in the design? Explain.

-Was the study undertaken with an ideological perspective? If so, was there evidence ideological

methods and goals were achieved? (e.g., was there evidence of full collaboration between

researchers and participants? Did the research have the power to be transformative, or was there

evidence that a transformative process occurred?) Explain.

**Refer to Chapter 22 in Polit and Beck (2020) to assist when synthesizing information to

provide complete answers. Questions from Box 22.1 (Guidelines for Critically Appraising

Qualitative Designs) in Polit and Beck (2020).

Method-Sample and Setting:

-Was the setting or context adequately described? Was the setting appropriate for the research

question? Was there an explanation of why the setting was chosen? Explain.

-Were the sample selection procedures clearly delineated? What type of sampling strategy was

used? Explain.

-Were the eligibility criteria for the study specified? How were participants recruited into the

study? Did the recruitment strategy yield information-rich participants? Explain.

– Was the sampling approach appropriate for the qualitative tradition of the study? Are

dimensions of the phenomenon under study adequately represented? Explain.

-Was the sample size adequate and appropriate for the qualitative tradition of the study? Did

the researcher indicate saturation had been achieved? Explain.

-Did the findings suggest a richly textured and comprehensive set of data without any apparent

“holes” or thin areas? Did the sample contribute sufficiently to analytic generalization?


-Were key characteristics of the sample described (e.g. age, gender)? Was a rich description of

participants and context provided, allowing for an assessment of the transferability of the

findings? Explain.




** Refer to Chapter 23 in Polit and Beck (2020) to assist when synthesizing information to

provide complete answers. Questions from Box 23.1 (Guidelines for Critically Appraising

Sampling Designs) in Polit and Beck (2020).

Method-Data Collection and Procedure:

-Were appropriate methods used to gather data? Was data gathered through two or more

methods to achieve triangulation? Explain.

-Given the research question and the characteristics of study participants, did the researcher use

the best method of capturing study phenomena (e.g., self-reports, observation)? Should

supplementary data collection methods have been used to enrich the data available for analysis?

-If self-report methods were used, did the researcher make good decisions about the specific

method used to solicit information (e.g., focus group interviews, semi-structured interviews, and

so on)? Was the modality of obtaining the data appropriate (e.g., in-person interviews, telephone

interviews, Internet questioning, etc.)? Explain.

-If a topic guide was used, did the report present examples of specific questions? Were the

questions appropriate and thorough? Did the wording encourage full and rich responses?

-Were interviews recorded and transcribed? If interviews were not recorded, what steps were

taken to ensure the accuracy of the data? Explain.

– Were self-report data gathered in a manner that promoted high-quality responses (e.g., in

terms of privacy, efforts to put respondents at ease, etc.)? Explain.

-If observational methods were used, did the report adequately describe what the observations

entailed? What did the researcher actually observe, in what types of settings did the observations

occur, and how often and over how long a period were observations made? Were decisions about

positioning described? Explain.

-Was sufficient time spent in data collection? Explain.

-What role did the researcher assume in terms of being an observer and a participant? Was this

role appropriate? Explain.

-Were data collected in a manner that minimized bias? Explain.

-Were the right questions and/or observations recorded in an appropriate fashion? Explain.

-Who collected the data, and were they adequately prepared for the task? Explain.


**Refer to chapter 24 in Polit and Beck (2020 to assist when synthesizing information to

provide complete answers. Questions from Box 24.3 (Guidelines for Critically Appraising

Unstructured Data Collection Methods) of Chapter 24 from Polit and Beck (2020)

Method-Enhancement of trustworthiness:

-Overall question: Was there evidence that data derived from the research study was

trustworthy (as described in Chapter 26 of Polit and Beck, 2020)? Questions to address:


-Did the researchers use effective strategies to enhance the trustworthiness/integrity of the

study, and was there a good description of those strategies? Which specific techniques did the

researcher use to enhance the trustworthiness and integrity of the inquiry? What quality-

enhancement strategies were not used? Would additional strategies have strengthened

confidence in the study and its evidence? Explain.

– Did the researcher document research procedures and decision processes sufficiently that

findings were authentic (auditable and confirmable)? Explain.

– Were results interpreted in light of findings from other studies? Explain.




-Given the efforts to enhance data quality, what can be concluded about the study’s

validity/rigor/trustworthiness? Explain.

-Did the researchers discuss the study’s implications for clinical practice or future research?

Were the implications well-grounded in the study evidence? Explain.

-Did the report discuss any study limitations and their possible effects on the credibility of the

results or on interpretations of the data? Explain.

-Was there evidence of researcher reflexivity? Explain. -Was there “thick description” of the context, participants, and findings, and was it at a

sufficient level to support transferability? Explain.

**Refer to chapter 26 in Polit and Beck (2020)

Results-Data Analysis:

-Was the data analysis strategy/method compatible with the research tradition and with the

nature and type of data gathered? Explain.

-Were major analytic decisions communicated in the article (e.g., who did the analysis and

transcription)? Were the decisions reasonable ones? Explain.

-Were the coding process and coding scheme described? If so, does the process seem

reasonable? Does the scheme appear logical and complete? Does there seem to be unnecessary

overlap or redundancy in the codes? Explain.

– Were manual methods used to index and organize the data, or was computer software used?


– Does the article adequately describe the process by which the actual analysis was performed?

If codes were collapsed into categories, does the resulting set of categories make sense?


-What major themes or processes were gleaned from the data? If excerpts from the data were

provided, do the themes appear to capture the meaning of the narratives—that is, does it

appear that the researcher adequately interpreted the data and conceptualized the themes or

categories? Explain.

-What evidence does the report provide that the analysis is accurate and appropriate? Were

data shared in a manner that allows you to verify the researcher’s conclusions? Explain.

-Was a metaphor used to communicate key elements of the analysis? Did the metaphor offer an

insightful view of the findings, or did it seem contrived? Explain.

-Was the context of the phenomenon adequately described? Does the article give you a clear

picture of the social or emotional world of study participants? Explain.

-Did the analysis yield a meaningful and insightful picture of the phenomenon under study—or

is the resulting theory or description trivial and obvious? Explain.

-Did the analytic procedures suggest the possibility of biases? Explain.

**Refer to chapter 25 in Polit and Beck (2020) to assist when synthesizing information to

provide complete answers. Questions from Box 25.2 (Guidelines for Critically Appraising

Qualitative Analyses and Interpretations) of chapter 25 in Polit and Beck (2020)


-Were the findings effectively summarized, with good use of excerpts and supporting

arguments? Explain.

-Did the analysis yield an insightful, provocative, authentic and meaningful picture of the

phenomenon under investigation? Explain.






Results-Theoretical Integration:

– Were the themes or patterns logically connected to each other to form a convincing and

integrated whole?

-Did the themes adequately capture the meaning of the data? Explain.

-Was discussion of key findings congruent with the research approach? Explain.

Discussion-Interpretation of the findings:

-Were the findings discussed and interpreted within an appropriate social or cultural context

and within the context of prior studies? Explain.

-Were interpretations consistent with the study’s limitations? Explain.

-Did the article address the transferability and applicability of the findings? Such as: Did the

researchers discuss the implications of the study for clinical practice or further research, and

were those implications reasonable and complete? Explain.

Personal Reflection/Conclusion:

The personal reflection/conclusion should answer questions such as:

-How does the article contribute to your understanding of research?

-Does the article change your views of the topic?

-What do you consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of the article?

-Do the study findings appear to be trustworthy—do you have confidence in the truth value of

the results?

-Does the article inspire confidence about the types of people and settings for whom the

evidence is applicable?


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