How to assess the strengths and weaknes…

Questions to ask yourself to help you pinpoint strengths and weaknesses of a
researcher’s argument:
What assumptions does the research rest on, and are these assumptions persuasive?
Why or why not? If not, would changing the assumptions change the outcome of the
Is the study population representative of who/what the author claims to represent?
o Is the sample size big enough to support his/her claim?
o Were some people left out of the sample, whose inclusion might have changed
the research findings?
Was the data collected in a way that could have biased the study’s results?
Were the interview questions vague or misleading?
Is the researcher comparing things that aren’t comparable?
Does the researcher present evidence to support his/her findings? Is the evidence
convincing? Why or why not?
o Does the researcher over-generalize his/her findings, beyond what the
evidence would support?
o Does the researcher claim to demonstrate causation when s/he really only
demonstrates correlation?
Does the author describe and refute other plausible explanations of the phenomena
they are studying?
Do the authors contradict themselves in ways important to their argument?
Who funded the research, and why? Could the source of funding possibly have
biased the research results?
Questions that do NOT help you directly assess the strengths and weaknesses of a
researcher’s argument:
Who is the target audience of the article?
How does the study relate to my life?
Can further research be done on the topic?
How long is the article describing the study?
How many sources are listed at the end of the article describing the study?
Does the author use qualitative or quantitative research methods?
Is the article well written?
Does the author include any solutions to the problem s/he describes?
How old is the research?
Does the author argue for or against the findings of previous studies on the same
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