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Critical Appraisal of a Quantitative Study

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Critical Appraisal of a Quantitative Study Assignment

In this exercise, students will gain the experience of conducting a critical appraisal of a selected quantitative study. This assignment will assist students in understanding the basic process of conducting a literature review, conducting an appraisal of research study findings, and understanding the beginning process of conducting an evidence-based practice review. It will also provide students with the scientifically based information and knowledge on a selected procedure/issue. Students will select a topic with your instructor’s approval. Students will chose one of the articles obtained through the scavenger hunt/obtain a new article, and use the guidelines in the text to conduct an appraisal of the article.

The goals of this assignment are to:

  1. Assist students in understanding the basic process of conducting a literature review/critical appraisal.
  2. Assist students in understanding the beginning process of conducting an evidence-based practice review.
  3. Provide students with the beginnings of scientifically based knowledge on a selected procedure/topic related to nursing research.

 

Steps of the process:

  1. Select a topic with instructor’s approval/students can use article previously obtained from the article scavenger hunt assignment. Article for this assignment MUST be a quantitative study.
  2. Conduct a search using the various electronic databases. Limit the search to the past 5 years. Review abstracts to determine appropriateness of article.
  3. Appraise the article critically using the guidelines provided in Chapter 12 of the text.
  4. Complete a written report using the guidelines as provided in Chapter 12 of the text.
  5. See below for information to include in the report.
  6. Submit the report via blackboard. Submit the article with the assignment.

 

Intellectual Critique Questions

  1. Was the research problem significant?
  2. What are the major strengths of the study?
  3. What are the major weaknesses of the study?
  4. Did the researchers use sound methodology?
  5. Do the findings accurately reflect reality?
  6. Are the findings consistent with those from previous studies?
  7. Can the study be replicated by others?
  8. What are the implications of the findings?

Intellectual Critique Guidelines

  1. Read and critique the entire study.
  2. Examine the organization and presentation of the research report.
  3. Examine the significance of the probe, studied for nursing practice.
  4. Identify strengths and weaknesses of a study.
  5. Be objective and realistic in identifying the study’s strengths and weaknesses.
  6. Provide specific examples of the strengths and weaknesses.
  7. Provide a rationale for your critique.
  8. Suggest modifications for future studies.
  9. Discuss feasibility of replication of the study.
  10.  Discuss usefulness of findings for practice.

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Information to include in the report (see examples on pages 433-442)

Research Problem and Purpose

  • Is the problem sufficiently delimited in scope without being trivial?
  • Is the problem significant to nursing?
  • Will the study problem and purpose generate or refine knowledge for nursing practice?
  • Is there evidence of researcher biases?
  • Does the purpose narrow and clarify the aim of the study?
  • Was the study feasible in terms of funding, expertise, subjects, facility, equipment, and ethical considerations?

Literature Review

  • Does it demonstrate progressive development of ideas through previous research?
  • Is a theoretical knowledge base developed for the problem and purpose?
  • Does the literature review provide rationale and direction for the study?
  • Is a clear, concise summary presented of the current empirical and theoretical knowledge in the area of study?

Study Framework

  • Is the framework presented with clarity?
  • If a map or model is presented, is it adequate to explain the phenomenon of concern?
  • Is the framework linked to the research purpose?
  • Would another framework fit more logically with the study?
  • Is the framework related to nursing knowledge?
  • If a proposition from a theory is tested, is the proposition clearly identified and linked to the study hypotheses?

Research Objectives, Questions, or Hypotheses

  • Are the objectives, questions, or hypotheses expressed clearly?
  • Are the objectives, questions, or hypotheses logically linked to the research purpose and framework?
  • Are the research objectives, questions, or hypotheses linked to concepts and relationships from the framework?

Variables

  • Do the variables reflect the concepts identified in the framework?
  • Are the variables clearly defined?
  • Is the conceptual definition of a variable consistent with the operational definition?

Method/Design

  • Did the researchers use sound methodology?
  • Is the design used the most appropriate to obtain the needed data?
  • Does the design provide a means to examine all of the objectives, questions, or hypotheses?
  • Have threats to design validity been minimized?
  • Is the design logically linked to the sampling method and statistical analyses?
  • Is the treatment clearly described?
  • Was a protocol developed to promote consistent implementation of the treatment?
  • Did the researcher monitor the implementation of the treatment to ensure consistency?

Sample, Population, and Setting

  • Is the sampling method adequate to produce a representative sample?
  • What are the potential biases in the sampling method?
  • Are any subjects excluded from the study based on age, socioeconomic status, or race, without a sound rationale?
  • Were the sampling criteria appropriate for the type of study conducted?
  • Is the sample size sufficient to avoid a type II error?
  • If more than one group is used, do the groups appear equivalent?
  • Are the rights of human subjects protected?
  • Is the setting used in the study typical of clinical settings?
  • Was sample mortality a problem? If so, how might this influence the findings?

Measurements

  • Do the instruments adequately measure the study variables?
  • Are the instruments sufficiently sensitive to detect small differences?
  • Does the instrument have adequate validity and reliability?

Scales and Questionnaires

  • Are the instruments clearly described?
  • Are techniques to complete and score the instruments provided?
  • Are validity and reliability of the instruments described?
  • If the instrument was developed for the study, is the instrument development process described?

Observation

  • Are the phenomena to be observed clearly identified and defined?
  • Is interrater and intrarater reliability described?
  • Are the techniques for recording observations described?
  • Interviews
  • Do the interview questions address concerns expressed in the research problem?
  • Are the interview questions relevant for the research purpose and objectives, questions, or hypotheses?
  • Does the design of the questions tend to bias subjects’ responses?
  • Does the sequence of questions tend to bias subjects’ responses?

Physiological Measures

  • Are the physiological measures or instruments clearly described? If appropriate, are brand names of instruments identified?
  • Are the accuracy, selectivity, precision, sensitivity, and error of the instruments discussed?
  • Are the physiological measures appropriate for the research purpose and objectives, questions, or hypotheses?
  • Are the methods for recording data from the physiological measures clearly described?
  • Is the recording of data consistent?

Data Collection

  • Is the data collection process clearly described?
  • Is the training of data collectors clearly described and adequate?
  • Is the data collection process conducted in a consistent manner?
  • Are the data collection methods ethical?
  • Do the collected data address the research objectives, questions, or hypotheses?

Data Analysis

  • Are data analyses procedures appropriate to the type of data collected?
  • Are data analyses procedures clearly described?
  • Are the results presented in an understandable way?
  • Do data analyses address each research objective, question, or hypothesis?
  • Are the statistical analyses logically linked to the design?
  • Is the sample size sufficient to detect significant differences?
  • Was power analysis used to determine sample size?
  • Are the analyses interpreted appropriately?

Interpretation of Findings

  • Do the findings from the study accurately reflect reality? Are the findings credible?
  • Are findings discussed in relation to each objective, question, or hypothesis?
  • Are the findings clinically significant?
  • Do the conclusions fit the findings from the analyses?
  • Are conclusions based on statistically significant and clinically significant results?
  • Are there limitations the researcher did not identify?

Evaluation

  • What are the major strengths of the study?
  • What are the major weaknesses/limitations of the study?
  • What rival hypotheses can be suggested for the findings?
  • How much confidence can be placed in the study findings?
  • To what populations can the findings be generalized?
  • What questions emerge from the findings, and are these identified by the researcher?
  • What future research can be envisioned? Can the study be replicated by other researchers?
  • Could the limitations of the study have been corrected?
  • When the findings are examined based on previous studies, what is now known and not known about the phenomenon under study? That is, are the findings consistent with those from previous studies?
  • Does the author indicate the implication of the findings for practice? What are the implications of the findings for nursing practice?

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