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Critical Appraisal QUALitative Research

Tips from Cardiff University RSSDP course

by  Fiona Morgan on 13th February 2012


  • Vast literature
    (1.4 million academics papers published in 32,000 peer-reviewed scientific journals worldwide)
  • But limited time to read
  • This is actually how to trash the paper


  • Methodology should be presented clearly to the readers in order to replicate, assess the quality of your work.

Asking general questions 

  • What is this paper about?
  • Is it relevant to what you are looking for
  • Do I trust it? – Methodology
  • What are the results? (The last question!)

Qualitative research

  • Interpretive / subjective e.g., Meaning, experiences, feelings or insights
  • Variety of methods
  • Focuses in understanding how people think, behave in a particular way.
  • Language used in qualitative research mostly are user-unfriendly and difficult to read

Assessing qualitative research

  • Credible
    – Do we have confidence in the results?
  • Transferable
    – Can they be applied in similar settings?
  • Dependable
    – appropriate design, methodology and process?

Check list

  • Clear statement of aims?
    – What is the purpose
    – What outcomes are expected?
    – The above should be in the introduction
  • Research question – SPICE
  • Is a qualitative methodology appropriate?
  • Was the recruitment strategy appropriate to the research aims?
    – From where?
    – Who did it?
    – How?
    – What sample size?
    – Why people did/did not take part?  – Selection bias
  • Were the data collected in a way that considered the research issue?
    – Is it clear?
    – Where was the study set?
    – how were data collected?
    – How ere they recorded?
    – Were method modified?
  • Have ethical issues been taken into consideration?
    – Ethical approval
    – How was the research explained to the participants e.g., expectation, timescale.
    – Was informed consent obtained?
  • Reflexivity (research bias)
    – Is the research role examined?
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