What does it mean to critique research?
It DOESN'T mean that you're finding flaws and describing what was 'bad' about it. These are certainly things to look for, but more importantly, you're writing about HOW the research was done.
A few questions you might want to consider:
Does the problem of topic indicate a particular focus of study?
Is the problem “researchable,” that is, can it be investigated through the collection and analysis of data?
Is the background information on the problem presented?
Is the educational significance of the problem discussed?
Does the qualitative problem statement provide a general indication of the research topic or issue?
Does the researcher have the knowledge and skill to carry out the proposed research?
Are all references cited relevant to the problem under investigation?
Are most of the sources primary; i.e., are there only a few or no secondary sources?
Is the review well organized?
Does it logically flow in such a way that the references least related to the problem are discussed first and the most related references are discussed last?
Does it educate the reader about the problem or topic?
Are references cited completely and accurately?
Methods / Methodology-
Are the size and major characteristics of the population studied described?
Are the accessible and target populations described?
If a sample was selected, is the method of selecting the sample clearly described?
Does the method of sample selection suggest any limitations or biases in the sample?
Are the size and major characteristics of the sample described?
Does the sample size meet the suggested guideline for minimum sample size appropriate for quantitative analyses?
Do instruments and their administration meet guidelines for protecting human subjects?
Have needed permissions been obtained?
Is evidence presented to indicate that the instruments are appropriate for the intended sample? (For example, is the reading level of an instrument suitable for sample participants?)
If an instrument was developed specifically for the study, are the procedures involved in its development and validation described?
Are appropriate descriptive statistics presented?
Was the probability level at which the results of the tests of significance were evaluated specified in advance of the data analysis
Was every hypothesis tested?
Are the tests of significance described appropriate, given the hypotheses and design of the study?
Was the inductive logic used to produce results in a qualitative study made explicit?
Are the tests of significance interpreted using the appropriate degrees of freedom?
Are the results clearly described?
Are the tables and figures (if any) well organized and easy to understand?
Are the data in each table and figure described in the text?
Discussion / Conclusion / Recommendations-
Is each result discussed in terms of the original hypothesis or topic to which it relates?
Is each result discussed in terms of its agreement or disagreement with previous results obtained by other researchers in other studies?
Are generalizations consistent with the results?
Are the possible effects of uncontrolled variables on the results discussed?
Are theoretical and practical implications of the findings discussed?
Are recommendations for future action made?
Are the suggestions for future action based on practical significance or on statistical significance only; i.e., has the author avoided confusing practical and statistical significance?
Here are some more sites that might be useful in learning how to critique research:
Reading & Critiquing a Research Article from American Nurse Today
Framework for How to Read and Critique a Research Study from American Nurses Association
Step-by-step guide to Critiquing Research from British Journal of Nursing
Article Critique Checklist from University of Nevada, Las Vegas nursing research course syllabus