Table 4

Some guidance for critiquing qualitative research

Critiquing sub headingsAreas to considerNotes
  • Authors’ credentials: are they experts in the area?

  • What are the authors’ qualifications and affiliations?

  • Are the research study findings linked with the data collected?

  • Is there sufficient information provided on how the research was conducted?

  • Are the study findings believable?

  • Does the setting reflect the context of the research and its applicability?

  • Did the researchers discuss or refer to the documentation, or paper trail, of their decisions, and methods related to the research?

  • Can you identify from the research that field notes or memos were used?

  • Can you identify the researcher’s decision-making through a reflexive journal or diary?

Ethical approval and practice
  • Is there confirmation of ethical approval?

  • Can you identify good ethical practice, for example, consent, confidentiality, no harm or risk to participants or how these were minimised?

  • Are the relevant ethical issues identified and strategies to address these put in place?

Data collection
  • Is there a clear account of how the data were collected?

  • Did the researchers make clear the participant recruitment process?

  • Is the data collection method justified?

Patterns and theme formation
  • Have the researchers discussed how the patterns and themes have emerged?

  • Can you identify the data analysis process?

  • Have the researchers discussed how or if they used triangulation in the study? (not all researchers use triangulation)

  • Have the researchers discussed member checking and if more than one researcher performed the analysis?

  • Can you identify the research trail created by the researchers?

  • Have the authors made clear the applicability of their findings to similar areas of practice?

  • Are the implications for practice discussed?

  • Can the findings be used to extend or modify existing theories, beyond healthcare, for example, in social science areas?

  • Do the findings inform practice?