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SWRK 440 Social Work Research Methods: Read and Evaluate Articles

Components of a Scholarly Article


  • Brief overview and key points of the study
  • Read to quickly determine the article’s relevance to your topic
  • Hypothesis of the study and review of relevant literature
  • Read for the context of the problem and the prior relevant research
    • Check the statement of the problem/hypothesis:
      • Problem or Hypothesis clearly stated?
      •  Problem is significant?
      •  Assumptions stated?
      •  Limitations stated?
      •  Terms defined?
    • Check out the literature review:
      • Pertinent literature is included?
      • Review of literature is well organized?
      • Review of literature is critical?
      • Relationship of the literature reviewed to the problem is apparent?
  • Detailed information about the research conducted
  • Includes participants, procedures, instruments, history and background of the instruments chosen, and the variables
    • Check the design of the study:
      • Research design is explained fully such that you could repeat it?
      • Research design is appropriate to the problem?
      • Variables are well described such as: population, sampling method, data gathering methods, etc.?
      • Instrument used is described and some history and context for this decision is given?
      • Measures to assure the validity and reliability of the data collected are given?
  • Summary of data, including:
    • relationships among variables
    • methodology for statistical analysis
    • P value (construct for significance, .05 or .01)
    • N (sample size)
    • how the results relate to the hypothesis or problem stated in the introduction.
    • Comparisons may be included to clarify findings, or to explore unanticipated findings
    • Check the data analysis:
      • Method used to analyze data is well explained?
      • Methods used are applied and interpreted correctly?
      • Results of analysis are clearly stated?
  • Summary of results in narrative form. 
  • Usually relates the results of the study to prior study results and gives suggestions for further study
    • Check out their arguments:
      • Conclusions are clearly stated and relevant to the stated problem?
      • Generalizations are applied appropriately?
      • Limitations are noted?
      • Recommendations for further study are appropriate?
      • Tone of discussion is objective?
  • List of the sources cited
  • Sources not directly cited but used as prior reading

Quick Guide to Evaluating Sources


Script is a derivative of "Evaluating Sources for Credibility" by Lisa Becksford, NCSU Library, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources