How do I evaluate a study?

Critically evaluating studies is one of the most important things in psychology. Do not take study outcomes as gospel. There are flaws in basically all studies and the best papers are those that find a balance between finding value in a study and unearthing its most significant weaknesses.

To evaluate a study you should start by briefly summarising it. This includes naming the authors (and year of publication if you know it) and explaining the aimes and outcomes of the study.

After this you can continue with the discussion of the flaws of the research. The best essays will not only point out the flaws themselves but also discuss what these might mean for the study's results.

Here are some pointers what you could look at to critique a study:

Methodology (Are there issues with this? Perhaps a flaw in the design? What might be possible confounding factors that the researchers did not take into account?)

Cultural Issues (Might these findings differ depend on where they are made?)

Participants (What gender are they and does this make sense for the study? How were they chosen? What is their age-range and how might that affect the results?)

Ethical issues (Are there any ethical problems with this research? Although today studies have to be approved by an ethical board, this question is still worth asking, especially when looking at classic studies. But also more recent studies can have surprising ethical caveats)

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