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Reviewing a research paper

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1 Reviewing a research paper

2 What is a research paper
Analyzes a perspective Argues a point It represents your own thinking/analysis backed by other‘s work (P. Berge and C. Saffioti) "A research paper is exactly that: a paper written to reflect a search that will present information to support a point of view on a particular topic."

3 Research paper Eg: a lawyer researches and reads about many cases and uses them to support his own case. A scientist reads many case studies to support an idea about a scientific principle. A history student writing about the Vietnam War might read newspaper articles and books and interview veterans to develop and/or confirm a viewpoint and support it with evidence. 

4 Why write a paper The primary goals of a scientific paper are:
maximize the number of readers minimize the time to read your paper maximize the fraction of satisfied readers maximize the number of citations the paper will get Make life easy and pleasant for your reader

5 Background Cornerstone of the whole scholarly publication system
Maintains integrity in the advancement of science Well-established process over 300 years old

6 Functions of peer review
Acts as a filter by ensuring only good research is published. Helps to determine validity, significance and originality Improves the quality of the research submitted for publication by giving reviewers the opportunity to suggest improvements

7 Types of peer review Single blind peer review Double blind peer review
Open peer review

8 Why do you review Fulfill an academic ‘duty’
Keep up-to-date with latest developments Helps with their own research Build associations with prestigious journals and editors Remain aware of new research Develop one’s career

9 Reading a research paper
read abstract carefully read introduction quickly read conclusions quickly look at references skim rest of paper and then go back and start again if I do want to read it

10 Problems with reading I don't understand the area and how it fits in
consider reading something else short (like Wikipedia articles) I don't understand the contribution of the paper for an accepted paper, it must be spelled out somewhere, but sometimes not very prominently. Can help to find the statement, underline it and then read with that concretely in mind. I don't understand the technicalities/mathematics do you really need to? If so, begin with whatever you do understand and work on from there. Try proving the opposite of what it says...

11 Reading a paper -- critically
Reading a research paper must be a critical process. You should not assume that the authors are always correct. Instead, be suspicious. Critical reading involves asking appropriate questions. If the authors attempt to solve a problem, are they solving the right problem? Are there simple solutions the authors do not seem to have considered? What are the limitations of the solution (including limitations the authors might not have noticed or clearly admitted)? Are the assumptions the authors make reasonable? Is the logic of the paper clear and justifiable, given the assumptions, or is there a flaw in the reasoning? If the authors present data, did they gather the right data to substantiate their argument, and did they appear to gather it in the correct manner? Did they interpret the data in a reasonable manner? Would other data be more compelling?

12 Reading a paper – creatively
Reading a paper critically is easy, in that it is always easier to tear something down than to build it up. Reading creatively involves harder, more positive thinking. What are the good ideas in this paper? Do these ideas have other applications or extensions that the authors might not have thought of? Can they be generalized further? Are there possible improvements that might make important practical differences? If you were going to start doing research from this paper, what would be the next thing you would do?

13 Reviewing a paper What do the researchers want to find out?
Why is that important to investigate or understand? How are the researchers investigating this? Are their research methods appropriate and adequate to the task? What do they claim to have found out? Are the findings clearly stated? How does this advance knowledge in the field? How well do the researchers place their findings within the context of ongoing scholarly inquiry about this topic?

14 Reviewing a paper Overall organization of the paper Literature review
 Can you find answers to the above questions quickly and easily? Can you trace the logic of investigation consistently from the opening paragraphs to the conclusion? Literature review  Do the authors present a convincing line of argument here--or does it appear that they are just name-dropping (citing sources that may be important, without a clear underlying logic for how they may be important)? Do the authors focus on ideas, or merely on discrete facts or findings? Have they given sufficient attention to theory--the cumulative attempts at prior explanations for the questions they are investigating? Are the research questions or hypotheses clearly derivative of the theory and the literature review?

15 Reviewing a paper Methodology
Do the authors clearly describe their research strategies? Do they present sufficient detail about the sample from which they have collected data; the operationalization of measures they have attempted to employ; and the adequacy of these measures in terms of external and internal validity? Are their choices of methods adequate to find out what they want to find out in this study? Would other methods provide a substantial improvement; if so, would employing these methods be feasible or practical? Do they provide some justification for the methods they have chosen? Does this appear to be adequate?

16 Reviewing a paper Results
Are the tables and figures clear and succinct? Can they be "read" easily for major findings by themselves, or should there be additional information provided? Are the authors' tables consistent with the format of currently accepted norms regarding data presentation? Is it that the authors present too many tables or figures in the form of undigested findings? Are all of them necessary in order to tell the story of this research inquiry; or can some be combined? Remember that tables and figures are very expensive (from the standpoint of the journal) and that undigested data obscure rather than advance the cumulative development of knowledge in a field. Are the results presented both statistically and substantively meaningful? Have the authors stayed within the bounds of the results their data will support?

17 Reviewing a paper Discussion / interpretation
Do the authors present here a concise and accurate summary of their major findings? Does their interpretation fairly represent the data as presented earlier in the article? Do they attempt to integrate these findings in the context of a broader scholarly debate about these issues? Specifically: Do they integrate their findings with the research literature they presented earlier in their article--do they bring the findings back to the previous literature reviewed? Have they gone beyond presenting facts--data--and made an effort to present explanations--understanding? Have they responded to the conceptual or theoretical problems that were raised in the introduction? This is how theory is developed. Do the authors thoughtfully address the limitations of their study?

18 Reviewing a paper Writing
Do the authors communicate their ideas using direct, straightforward, and unambiguous words and phrases? Have they avoided jargon (statistical or conceptual) that would interfere with the communication of their procedures or ideas? Is the writing concise? Are too many words or paragraphs or sections used to present what could be communicated more simply? Is the writing correct grammatically?

19 Good and bad reviews A good review is supportive, constructive, thoughtful, and fair. It identifies both strengths and weaknesses, and offers concrete suggestions for improvements. It acknowledges the reviewer's biases where appropriate, and justifies the reviewer's conclusions. A bad review is superficial, nasty, petty, self-serving, or arrogant. It indulges the reviewer's biases with no justification. It focuses exclusively on weaknesses and offers no specific suggestions for improvement.

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