What Makes a Good Research Paper?
This article has been adapted from an assignment in a class covering research methods in kinesiology. Included in this article are criteria to evaluate or judge the integrity of a quantitative research paper with the use of external references.
The ability to critically evaluate the merits of a quantitative research design article is paramount for any field, in order to judge the integrity and usefulness of evidence and conclusions made in the article (Vance et al, 2013), which is why we developed this systematic summary to evaluate quantitative research in the field of Kinesiology for submission entries into our journal.
The first step to systematically reviewing a quantitative study is to evaluate the validity of the study conducted as it allows you to further evaluate the merits of the study (Kowalski et al, 2018). There are four main components that we want to focus on: Logical validity, construct validity, internal validity, and external validity (See Appendix).
After evaluating the validity of the study, the next step is to review the format of the article, which needs to include a title, abstract, introduction, purpose statement, methods, results section, discussion, references, and appendix (See Appendix). Then, systematically review the rest of the paper with respect to the criteria in this summary. It should also be noted that the research paper should be an appropriate length (See Appendix), so that the article goes into the depth required to describe and interpret the results (Kotzé, 2007).
The title should be clear, unambiguous, and clearly detail the purpose of the study to the reader. The title should accurately reflect the nature of the study and its focus so as not to create any false expectations for the readers (Kotzé, 2007)(See Appendix).
The abstract should provide a short summary of the research paper and tell the reader the key details of the study in a concise manner (See Appendix). The abstract must include the purpose of the study, along with the importance of the study, a brief detailing of the methodology, a summary of the research findings, and a statement about the conclusions of the study (Kotzé, 2007). It will serve as a summary of the entire article and must be present so that readers may decide if the study is relevant to their work prior to reading the lengthy article (Tullu M. S., 2019).
The introduction must give a comprehensive background of knowledge on the issue being addressed as well as where the study stands within the larger body of research on the topic in order to inform the reader. It should be mentioned what is known and not known about the issue and the significance of the proposed research study. A literature review must be included in the submission as either part of the introduction or a separate section. It should also detail where the references are coming from. (See Appendix).
A purpose statement should be included in the paper under review and can be included in the introduction but should always occur after the literature review. The purpose statement should be clear and brief so as not to confuse the readers, be objective in its writing, and relate to the purpose of the study as a whole (Abell, C. and Garrett Wright, D., 2016)
The methods section must describe the design of the study in detail, which should be appropriate for the purpose of the study. The target population, sampling method(s), whether it was random or nonrandom, sample size, and type of study should be mentioned, including how data was collected, descriptions of any instruments, tools, and scoring procedures such as a questionnaire or survey as well as their reliability measures (See Appendix).
Specific data analysis procedures must be suitable to the purpose and should be used appropriately, the results must be described accurately, and an objective analysis of the results must also be included (Burns et al., 2015). It is important that the data collection steps be described in detail to avoid internal validity threats and for the clarity of readers (See Appendix).
A discussion section should be included in the paper and must address the results of the study in relation to the study hypothesis, the strengths and limitations of the study, along with future direction of studies related to the research question. The researcher should include the important findings of the study and their statistical/clinical significance (See Appendix).
A separate reference page must be included in the paper and follow the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Seventh Edition. Sources must have a publication date of no later than ten years from the present, unless they are deemed seminal works to maintain relevance in the present time and to recognize the present knowledge in the field (Abell, C. and Garrett Wright, D., 2016).
An appendix must be included in the paper and must follow the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Seventh Edition
Abell, Cathy H. and Garrett Wright, Dawn M. (2016) “Critiquing Quantitative Research Reports: Key Points for the Beginner,” International Journal of Faith Community Nursing: Vol. 2 : Iss. 3 , Article 1.
Grove, S. K., Burns, N., & Gray, J. (2013). The practice of nursing research: Appraisal, synthesis, and generation of evidence (7th ed). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders.
Grove, S. K., & Cipher, D. J. (2017). Statistics for nursing research: A workbook for evidence based practice. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders.
Grove, S. K., Gray, J. R., & Burns, N. (2015). Understanding nursing research: Building an evidence-based practice. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders.
Kotzé, T. (2007). Guidelines on writing a first quantitative academic article. Pretoria: University of Pretoria.
Polit, D.F., & Beck, C.T. (2008). Nursing research: Generating and assessing evidence for nursing practice. St. Louis: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.
Tullu M. S. (2019). Writing the title and abstract for a research paper: Being concise, precise, and meticulous is the key. Saudi journal of anaesthesia, 13(Suppl 1), S12–S17. https://doi.org/10.4103/sja.SJA_685_18
Kinesiology Journal Reviewer’s Checklist
- Rejection of submission to journal.
If the submission does not meet one or more of the outlined criteria then the submission will be rejected and not included in the journal.
- If submission is accepted.
If the submission is accepted, reviewer’s will use the following criteria to critique the submission for improvements. Authors should evaluate their proposed work against the checklist for increasing the likelihood of publication.
- Approval from institutional review board
Submission needs to be approved by the affiliated institution’s research review board to satisfy the Tri-Council Policy Statement on Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (Grove, Burns, & Gray, 2013).
- For a submission to be accepted it must meet the validity criteria. The first is Logical validity, which refers to the quality of the researcher’s arguments, their application of theory to support the need for the study, and the appropriate interpretation of the results based on the data (Kowalski et al, 2018). If the researchers are able to show logical validity, and have justified that their research is essential and important, they have logical validity (Kowalski et al, 2018). Based on the above statements we will examine the whole research report and critically evaluate if it answers the question, “Does this make sense, and has it been justified by the researchers?” (Kowalski et al, 2018).
- A submission must include construct validity as it refers to whether the measure used by the researchers do indeed measure what they intend to measure (Kowalski et al, 2018). The researcher should develop a web of evidence to support the measure they chose (Kowalski et al, 2018). To show that the research has construct validity, it should answer the question, “Does the measure appear to measure what it intends to?” and the researchers should show evidence of this (Kowalski et al, 2018).
- A submission must have Internal validity. Internal validity refers to researchers’ ability to claim that any change in an outcome is the result of the treatment or intervention and not a result of other factors (Kowalski et al, 2018). For higher internal validity, the design of the study should be an experimental design with a control group and random assignment to each group, along with random order of the intervention. (Kowalski et al, 2018). Assessing any threats to internal validity is also important.
- A submission must include External validity as it refers to the researchers ability to be able to generalize the results from the study to the general population (Kowalski et al, 2018). If they can do this, their external validity is considered to be very high. In order to have external validity, researchers need to show that their research is effective across a number of different samples and populations (Kowalski et al, 2018). Threats to external validity should also be evaluated.
- Journal Format and Organization (Has to include)
- Purpose Statement
- Length and Diction
Submissions should be 4000-7000 words in length, so that the article goes into depth required to describe and interpret the results. The diction used should be appropriate for the target audience and is clear and concise (Kotzé, 2007).
The title should be 8-15 words in length and should focus on answering the following questions. What is being researched? How will the study be conducted? What is the population of the study? What are the conditions of the study? (Kotzé, 2007)
The abstract must include the purpose of the study, along with the importance of the study, a brief detailing of the methodology, a summary of the research findings, and a statement about the conclusions of the study (Kotzé, 2007).
The introduction for submission should give a comprehensive background of knowledge on the issue being addressed as well as where the issue stands within the larger body of research on the topic. It should be mentioned what is known and not known about the issue and the significance of the proposed research study. A Literature review must be included in the submission as either part of the introduction or a separate section. The resources mentioned in the literature review should indicate what type of source they are: peer reviewed, primary or secondary. (Abell, C. and Garrett Wright, D., 2016)
- Purpose Statement
The purpose statement can be included in the introduction but should always occur after the literature review. (Abell, C. and Garrett Wright, D., 2016)
A submission must describe the design of the study in detail which should be appropriate for the purpose of the study. The target population and sampling method(s), whether it was random or nonrandom as well as the sample size, should be mentioned. It must include how the data was collected, including descriptions of any instruments, tools, and scoring procedures such as a questionnaire or survey as well as their reliability measures. A Crohbach’s alpha of ≥ 0.80 for established instruments, and for instruments that have emerged in the last five years, a measure of 0.70-0.79 is considered acceptable (Grove & Cipher, 2017).. Examples of Internal validity include describing the selection of the sample group(s), control group, dropout rate, and statistical differences between groups if applicable. (Abell, C. and Garrett Wright, D., 2016)
Specific data analysis procedures suitable to the purpose should be used and the results must be described accurately (Burns et al., 2015). An objective analysis of the results must also be included (Burns et al., 2015).
The discussion should address the results in relation to the purpose of the study and any research question(s)/hypothesis stated. Any limitations of the generalizability of the results should also be included. Lastly, the researcher should recommend or bring up questions for future studies as well as how it compares to past studies of a similar nature. (Abell, C. and Garrett Wright, D., 2016)
A separate references page must be included following the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Seventh Edition. All in-text and references page references must be accurately cited. (Abell, C. and Garrett Wright, D., 2016)
The appendix must follow the American Psychological Association, Seventh Edition guidelines of appendix use.