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HIP202 Research Skills Guide: Evaluating Full Articles for Relevance and Rigour

Evaluating for relevance and rigour

Relevance

With most full-text articles, reading the introductory section will help you to continue to evaluate the relevance of the article to your information needs. Does the introduction make clear what research question(s) the author(s) aimed to answer?  Are these questions relevant to your professional practice, policy development, or other information needs? If not, do not invest any more time in evaluating the article. If so, continue reading the article critically.

If it is a research article, meta-synthesis, or meta-analysis, skim-read the Method section of the article. Consider whether the research setting(s) and participants/informants are relevant to your situation or information needs.  Make a critical judgment about whether the Results and Conclusions in the article will be potentially generalisable or transferrable to your situation or question.

In all of this, you are evaluating the relevance of research: that is, assessing the usefulness of the findings.

Rigour

By checking the full-text of a research article, you can also begin a different type of evaluation: assessing the rigour of the study.

Evaluating rigour is concerned with how well the reported findings (or claims) not only answer the research question but are supported by the research methods and data reported in the article. Published articles (even those that have been peer-reviewed) vary widely in their level of rigour.

More specifically, rigour in research refers to the effort that has been made ...

  • to clearly and precisely articulate the research question(s); and
  • to ensure that the research methods, results, and conclusions strongly align with the research question and with each other.

Kylie will cover these skills in more detail in classes.