How to critique qualitative academic research

This  post will be more of interest to those of you doing some research for a dissertation or thesis.  Whether you are reading an article in an academic journal for use in a literature review chapter of your thesis or you have been asked to critique an academic article, there are some key questions you need to ask.  I summarise these questions below, with focus on qualitative research.  The questions are presented in a way which mimics headings you might find in a typical article.


Is the purpose of the study set out clearly?

Will a theoretical or practical contribution be made?

Literature reviewed

Is the literature reviewed up-to-date and comprehensive?

Are some pieces of literature emphasised more than others?

Are the findings evaluated critically?

Is the literature related to the current study?

Does the review help establish the relevance of the current study?

Research problem/question

Is the problem stately clearly?

What type of research is being carried out?


How was the research subject(s) selected?

Could the selection method effect the results?

Are biased responses possible?

Is data validated?

Are the methods adopted described in detail?

Are there any weaknesses in the methods used?

Is the researcher biased?


Are findings presented clearly?

Are findings supported by adequate narrative and argument?

Are findings supported by quotes/examples from data?


Are conclusions clearly related to the research problem?

Are findings interpreted?

Are findings related to previous studies/literature?

Are limitations of findings mentioned?

Are conclusions clearly related to findings and discussion?

Are the findings generalisable?

This is by no means an exhaustive list of questions to ask yourself, but it’ll help you on your way. Good luck with your research.

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About martinjquinn

I am an accounting academic, accountant and author based near Dublin, Ireland.

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