How to evaluate the quality of a research paper published in a journal?
When we are working on our research idea, we are dependent upon the already existing research to pick up the threads. The previously done work constructs the foundation for our research and guides our further course. For the purpose of establishing a strong research base and to avoid the multiplication of wrong information, it is very crucial to have a critical evaluation of the existing scientific evidence. As an author, you must know which research paper can be considered worthy.
There is a criterion to confirm if the results of the research can be trusted. Errors invariably can emerge in any of the research phases and so the way the research has been conducted and the presentation of the results do matter.
When you are trying to evaluate or write an effective research paper, here is a reminder of a few criteria you must not miss:
Research Question: The research question must clearly state the aims of the research. As a reader with a critical perspective, you must pay specific attention towards logic, causation, association or relationship to know that the author had a clear picture of why he wanted to do the research.
Sample: The sample has to be representative as well as adequate. In addition, the technique for selection of the representation is also an important determinant of the quality of the research. Look for if there is any scope of bias in the sample and the adequacy of the sample size can be determined by employing power analysis.
Control of extraneous variation: Has the author ensured the control of relevant confounding variables? If not hen the findings can be affected and not be completely trustworthy.
Research Methodology: The research design should be suitable and should justify the research question raised priorly. The reader should thoroughly investigate the true experimental design and distinguish it from a random assignment or pre-experimental design.
Data Analysis: In synchronisation with the data and the objective of the study, appropriate statistical tests should be applied. In the case of multi comparisons, check if the researcher has taken up post hoc.
Discussion and Conclusions: Does the study permit generalisation and are there practical limitations of the study discussed? The results should be the base of the discussion and conclusion of any study. The conclusion shouldn’t be governed by what the researcher expected to achieve from the study.
References: Are the references structured and follow the APA guidelines? They must be relevant to the time of the study and not obsolete or redundant.
How to utilize online sources for research
Over the last few years, the Internet has become the ultimate research tool. An array of search engines is there to assist scholars find references. However, the problem with such research is that you will get innumerable answers to all questions. Both positive and negative opinions are present; both supporting and opposing views fill the result pages. So, it is easy to become confused and misled. Follow some basic guidelines suggested here while searching the internet for your project and you will get better results:
• Decide your keywords with which you want to search. Focused search will give more relevant results.
• Shortlist some reliable sites that contain information backed by universities, colleges or renowned research organizations. Since the material published on many of the websites is neither peer reviewed nor checked by some higher authority, its credibility can be doubtful. On the other hand, most online journal papers, as well as information shared by universities are peer reviewed and verified.
• Once you have found the more trustworthy sites, note down the URL. Do not rely on the search history to lead you to those sites again.
• There are different rules for citing online sources. Consult your supervisor about the citation style to be followed for websites. You may need to provide the URL, authors’ name, page number, etc. Also, while citing online sources ensure that you spell the website name correctly. Even a slight mistake can render your citation useless.
• Look for links or email address, through which you can reach the author or the publishing authority. This will help you if any clarification is required.
• Popular search engines like Google and Yahoo differ in their methods for searching sites. Choose one that gives you appropriate results and use it repeatedly to maintain the quality of material you use.
All said and done, don’t just rely on the internet. It is present to support your research, not replace books and journals. Also make ample use of your library for research.
Steps to be taken to choose the Right Research Project
When an author is deciding on what topic he should write his research paper on he has to take many factors into account. Otherwise his project will be an academic and financial disaster. So what are the steps he can take to choose the right topic?
1) One of these key factors is the strengths and weaknesses that he has. He should obviously write his topic on what his strengths are. There is no point working on a project that is his weak point. That way he will only end up spoiling everything and not achieve anything significant in his work. If he does not know what his strengths are then he should take out a piece of paper and do some self-introspection before he starts his work. This way he can focus on a subject matter that will allow him to excel.
2) Once the author has decided on his research topic, the next thing that he should do is to decide on a timeline for his project. This once again depends on the speed and capacity that the scholar has for his work. If the scholar is very slow with his work on a particular topic then there are high chanced that he will miss his deadline. Therefore, a topic should be chosen that will allow him to complete his project in an efficient manner.
3) The researcher should perform a few experiments and examine the kind of data that he receives. Is there enough data for further analysis, and do the experiments yield the kind of results that he is looking for? If the answer is yes, then he can go ahead with the research topic. If the answer is no then it is time that he considers different alternatives.
How is research rated?
In order to conduct research, the researcher should be first able to select a topic and define it in sufficient detail; the topic should be applicable to reality and not just a notion as such it should be supported by evidence and data. The topic generally belongs to the area of specialization of research and is chosen after a careful study of past and present context of the topic. Higher academic research work is generally complex and needs to be planned meticulously, planning helps to put together in advance the necessary documents and instruments for research, so that there are no bottlenecks when the actual research work takes place. During the planning phase the researcher also needs to select the methods and techniques he/she would apply to collect and analyze data taking into consideration the available resources and constraints, researcher should choose not only correct methods but also feasible and efficient and up to date methods.
Research works are rated on the following basis:
Level of originality: higher academic research work and especially doctoral level research work needs to establish its originality; the work of the researcher should expand the frontiers of knowledge.
Practicality: the research idea should be supported by data both secondary and primary data
Significance: the research work should be able to benefit entities of society or develop new concepts, applications and theories.
Documentation and Presentation: all the sources referred should be properly cited and referenced as per writing style guidelines. The research report should be presented in logical and sequential manner. Data should be presented with the help of graphics for better clarity. The research report should be easily searchable.
Methods: the researcher should mention not only the methods but the reason for selecting the methods and techniques with reference to the research situation.