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What should I look for in a good research article?

Discussion in 'Articles' started by marcusandy, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. marcusandy

    marcusandy Junior Poster

    Dec 27, 2010
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    I am critiquing an article to whether it is a good article for a researcher to use in a research paper.
    I need some topics of why an article would be good or bad...Then an explanation why you say that an article should or should not have that criteria in it.
    Thank you for all the help.
    I just need some ideas so I can go from there!
  2. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
    Lifetime Member

    Sep 23, 2007
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    Just common sense but..

    1). Is the article based on known facts or contain supporting documented evidence, or opinion and anecdotal evidence?

    2). Does it clearly state and then meet the objectives/subject of the article?

    As you can tell, I never went to college or did research, but I have read/written a lot of technical articles and also write lots of complex business software, so these are the things that I look for :)

    I know Tom and many others can help much more.

    Can you tell us the subject at least? Just curious now....
    #2 Gerryd, Dec 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2010
  3. Greg Watson

    Greg Watson Administrator
    Staff Member Administrator

    Jan 23, 2005
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    Here are a few concepts for you to ponder ...

    Is it Replicable? Is it Independently Verified?

    Two warning signs are testing/data that the author has not replicated themselves and has not had independently verified by a third party.

    Within the scientific community, when someone discovers something new they will almost always seek independent verification from some of their peers before they "publish" their findings. So as you are reading the article, look for references that they have replicated the tests themselves and that they have shared the data or have had samples tested by peers to independently verify their findings.

    A fun example is the theoretical discussion about whether "Cold Fusion" is possible. Would you want to "quote" or "cite" research in a research article written by someone else that is later refuted - or worse - popularized as either a hoax or bad science. For a fun read - simply check out the Wikipedia discussion of Cold Fusion:

    Cause versus Effect?

    I used to write a weekly column titled "What We Know That Isn't So" ... the column took popular beliefs or "rules of thumb" and debunked them. Thus another risk to look out for is whether the author attributed "effects" to "causes" but can not directly link them.

    All too often someone will observe an "input" into a process and observe a "result" - they will then attempt to make a definitive statement that X causes Y. But have they conducted adequate tests to isolate what is actually occurring to be able to link the cause and effect, or is the result simply a symptom of the bigger picture.

    My grandmother believed that the act of going to a hospital would kill you. As far as she was concerned, hospitals kill you. She would make the statement that hospitals kill.

    Is it appropriate for her to make such a connection? Perhaps not. Through observation, she may be able to actually gather empirical data to support her conclusion. But is it the act of going to a hospital that resulted in the deaths or where those deaths caused by some other factors?

    I know that sounds like a silly example - but that was deliberate to demonstrate the risks that are involved when evaluating research papers and the conclusions that they reach or draw.

    Best wishes ...

  4. pepetj

    pepetj Lifetime Members
    Lifetime Member

    Oct 8, 2008
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    A good research article complies with STARD methodology. STARD came out the Chemistry field but is being used in most other realms as well, like clinical psychology, my profession. STARD stands for STAndards for the Reporting of Diagnostic accuracy studies.

    Check it out

    Santo Domingo
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Jan 23, 2005
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    Well , you need to know the area of the research and the methods. Are these good methods to answer the questions?
    Did this paper contribute to the overall understanding of the field?
    Is it well cited?
    Are the results clear?
    Are their other confounding factors?
    Did they overlook or miss something?
    Are there issues with the methods?

    I think experience is something that goes a long way here, those "in the know" got there by making many many mistakes and overlooked other issues, then made sure not to repeat those mistakes later on.

    Tom Barr
  6. rockhoe14er

    rockhoe14er Prolific Poster

    Nov 2, 2010
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    I would like to add a lot of time you can also look at the credibility of the journal that the article was published in. For example most research published in Nature and Science or Science I would consider to be very credible. These journals have high standards for which research articles are accepted so this can also help and let you know the validity of what you are reading.
  7. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Jan 5, 2009
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    Thank goodness.

    I was hoping there was something for me to read.

    Dan, this is for you.

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