Article Critique Assignment
8) credibility standards for analytical
research such as historical and legal studies
- Credibility Standards of Adequacy
for Analytical Research:
& 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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?
- back to top
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
- 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?
- back to top