Research Article Critique Assignment
(link 8) credibility standards for analytical research such as historical and legal studies
 
Credibility Standards of Adequacy for Analytical Research:
Historical & Legal/Policy Studies
 
Quoted from McMillian, J. and Schumacher, S. (1997). Research in education: A conceptual introduction (4th edition), pp. 494-496. NY: HarpersCollins College Publishers.
 
Analytical research requires methodological procedures to phrase an analytical topic, locate and critique primary sources, establish facts, and form generalizations for causal explanations or principles. These research processes suggest criteria for judging a historical, legal, or policy-making study as credible research: Criteria for judging the adequacy of historical studies is followed by criteria for evaluating legal research.
 

Historical Studies
 
The reader judges a study in terms of the logical relationship among the problem statement, sources, generalizations, and causal explanations. The logic for the entire study flows from the problem statement. Implicit in the evaluation of a study is the question, "Did the analyst accomplish the stated purpose?" If all the elements of the research are not made explicit, the study can be criticized as biased or containing unjustifiable conclusions.
 
A. Problem statements in the introduction delineate the study and are evaluated by the following questions:
1a. Is the topic appropriated for analytical research--that is, does it focus on the past or recent past?
 
2a. Does the problem statement indicate clearly the information that will be included in the study and the information that is excluded from the study?
 
3a. Is the analytical framework or viewpoint stated?

 
 
B. Selection and criticism of sources are evaluated in terms of relevance to the problem statement. Sources are listed in the bibliography, and the criticism of the sources may be discussed in the study, the footnotes, or in a methodological appendix.
1b. Does the study use primary sources relevant to the topic?
 
2b. Is the criteria for selection of primary sources stated?
 
3b. Were authentic sources used for documentation?
 
4b. Does the analyst indicate criticism of sources?

 

 
C. Facts and generalizations presented in the text are assessed by asking the following questions.
1c. Does the study indicate the application of external criticism to ascertain the facts? If conflicting facts are presented, is a reasonable explanation offered?
 
2c. Are the generalizations reasonable and related logically to the facts?
 
3c. Are the generalizations appropriate for the type of analysis? One would, for example, expect minimal generalization in a study that restores a series of documents to their original text or puts a series of policy statements into chronological order. One would expect some synthesis in a descriptive or comparative analysis.
 
4c. Are the generalizations qualified or stated in a tentative manner?
 

 

 
D. Causal explanations, presented as conclusions, are evaluated by the following criteria. [Not all historiography are designed to reveal causal explanations.]
1d. Are the causal explanations reasonable and logically related to the facts and generalizations presented in the study?
 
2d. Do the explanations suggest multiple causes for complex human events?
 
3d. Does the study address all the questions stated in the introduction--that is, does if fulfill the purpose of the study?

 

 
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Legal or Policy Studies
 
Because commentaries in legal research do not follow the formats of other analytical research, the criteria for judging a study as credible differ somewhat. A reader first notes the reputation of the institution or organization that sponsors the journal and the reputation of the authors.
 
1. Is the legal issue or topic clearly stated with the scope and limitations of the problem explained?
 
2. Is the commentary organized logically for the analysis?
 
3. How were the sources selected and are they appropriate for the problem (e.g., case law, statutes, federal regulations, and so on). The reader needs to scrutinize the bibliography and footnotes.
 
4. Is the topic or issue treated logically in an unbiased manner?
 
5. Do the conclusions logically relate to the analysis?
 
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