Critical Review of article that reports Qualitative Research

| March 11, 2014

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Write the review as one full narrative without headings. You have to fit the review into 700 words, so don’t let structuring overburden the flow of your discussion on this article
Wilson, A., Renzaho, A. M. N., McCabe, M., & Swinburn, B. (2010). Towards understanding
the new food environment for refugees from the horn of africa in australia. Health &
Place, 16(5), 969-976. doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2010.06.001
Overall the assessment criteria are based on how well the review displays an understanding of qualitative research.
•??Penetrating understanding of qualitative research is demonstrated.
•??Very well substantiated arguments or explanations are provided about the strengths/weaknesses of the qualitative research report.
•??Alternative viewpoints considered and conclusions made about the strengths/weaknesses which are very well argued and substantiated.
•??There is substantial evidence of original and critical thinking in reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of the selected report.
•??There is an excellent standard of presentation.
General dimensions to consider for preparing your critical review:
Be mindful to describe the paper explicitly thus. But you need only give brief information on it. The assessment is on your review. That is what you see are the rhetorical and methodological strengths and weaknesses of the report; not your description of the report. Often the description of the report is implicit in defining these strengths and weaknesses.
Thus to save you space, rather than describe the report in one large summary block, tie any descriptions to critical points. You can quote specific text from the report itself. Maybe include for your peers the research purpose, one or more of the research questions, part of their theoretical framework or methodology; an interview question or two, or an excerpt of their data excerpts next to their interpretations. The idea is to work the report as a ‘text’. For example, maybe cite the actual research questions then say…” I like/don’t like these research questions because….*tell the audience why+. By citing from the report literally you will give the audience insight into the content so they can agree or disagree with your appraisals.
To help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of the report; here are some rhetorical questions to keep in mind when reading the report and preparing your review. Again, the review is brief. So do not feel daunted; you do not need to provide a review along each dimension below. You might want to really focus in on just one element of the report and use that to frame your discussion. Or focus only on its strengths, or, its weaknesses, or some of each etc. It is really up to you.
Some rhetorical questions while reading through a report and preparing a review.
1. Why was the report interesting? What was it you liked or disliked about how the author/s presented the introduction to this topic, how they developed their rationale, or identified the problem. Did they structure their argument well? Did they write well? How well did they describe the research issue or research area and what they aimed to explore about the topic? Generally, how well did the author/s argue the point about why their research was needed? How well did they connect their argument with extant literature and therefore claim to place their work in what has been done before? What was the gap in the literature they were addressing? Did their rationale for the research argue well for this gap and for their need to fill it? In your view was their literature review informative. What were they adding to our knowledge about the topic in your opinion? Is their chosen topic important? Did they convince you or make you agree, that it is important to investigate this topic and in the way they suggest; if so why or how.
2. Did the author/s describe how the research connected with or departed from research methodologies and theoretical frameworks that have been used to research this topic? How did they set up their argument to include the need for qualitative research and in particular, argue for their own methodological approach? How well or not was this done, and what did this mean for you?
3. Were the research questions good? Were they clear about their research purpose and research questions? Did they build an argument towards these? Did their questions fit as a logical extension of the rationale they had presented? Were the research questions written clearly and thus easily understood – how and why or why not? Note, not all reports include research questions. If questions were not included – how did this affect your evaluation/reading of the report?
4. Did the authors describe the theoretical framework guiding their research and if so did they do it well? Did they provide a full description of their methodology and how it applies to their research questions/purpose? In your view, did the theoretical framework and methodology fit their rationale, how? Do you think their framework and methodology was the ideal way to address their research questions? How and why? Can you think of any alternatives or additions they could make here? Did you learn anything new here; often a good report is one which we learn something from!
5. How did they collect data? Did they describe their sample characteristics in sufficient detail? Did you require more details, what sort? In your view were the sample characteristics appropriate to fit their rationale, research questions, theoretical framework, methodology, conclusions?
6. What was their method of sampling and was it appropriate to their rationale, research questions, theoretical framework, and methodology? What was their approach to engagement and selecting participants, setting up an interview, interview style, and approach? For example, did the authors provide you relevant information on how they set up the interview in order to be sensitive to the participants, was this adequate, why and how? In your view, overall was the approach to participants appropriate to fit their rationale, research questions, theoretical framework, and methodology?
7. Did they use an interview schedule / protocol, what sort, and did they describe this in enough detail to inform you of what questions they asked participants? Do you think the interview questions were well suited to their research purpose or research questions, methodology and theoretical framework, how and in what ways?
8. Did they deal with any ethical issues appropriately in your view, when sampling, recruiting, conducting the interview? Was there enough information to judge here?
9. Importantly, how did they analyse their data? What procedures for analysing the data did they use? Did they detail their processes sufficiently for you? Did you understand their process? In your view was the process suitable to their aims, theoretical framework and methodology, how and why?
10. What did you think about the interpretations they made> Did these match the data presented? Were the interpretations clear, and critically, were they justified? Overall or in parts, did the interpretations do justice to the data, methodology, research questions, and rationale?
11. Going back to the start a little here – for you, what were the implications of the reported research? Apply the ‘so what’ question. Was this research relevant, meaningful, and useful? What did you learn both about the topic and how it could be approached from a research point of view? Describe if and how the paper provided you with new ideas or knowledge about our social world and its people and about qualitative research methods (and the interaction of research topics and research method!). If you are like me you might ask, did it have a good social justice agenda – aiming to help those who most need our help!
Substantiating your review
Your perspective on the report will be very informative to others. Focus on the areas of strengths of weaknesses you find in the report and make your own judgments, about which aspects are important, which stuck out to you as good or poor, etc. It is fine to get a little personal about this; but note substantiate means always back your arguments up.
You do not need to substantiate by citing other published research reports per se. That is, you do not need to go and review other research to check how the report interacts with competing arguments in the area etc. You are not writing as in: “I don’t like this report because the analysis of Jones surely can be disputed by the findings of Smith who found that…”, or, “the conclusions are dubious. We know White’s work has been muddied by Black and Grey, and the situation is not as clear as White claims…”
The way to substantiate is to make references to what we know about qualitative research rigour. Overall we want to know; if you think their research was rigorous; and if so, to suggest in what way’s, and if not to suggest why not? Each of the above dimensions connects with types or forms of rigour. To describe and illustrate how in your view the report achieved rigour or failed to you can substantiate your review by referencing types or forms of rigour. Thus write more like: “The research achieved (or failed to) a degree of theoretical/methodological/procedural/interpretative/evaluative rigour by…” or; it achieved (or failed to) some trustworthiness, credibility, transferability, authenticity, dependability, confirmability, etc, as…
Another way to substantiate and convince others of your expertise generally is to label things technically. Clearly refer to things such as the type of methodology, sampling, interviewing, or analysis they used etc
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