How To Judge A Research Paper: Finding Appropriate Criteria


You have come across a great source of information to support the main idea in your argument. It is perfect; it provides just the answer you were looking for. There is one problem, you discovered it online. Anyone can sound like an expert online and publish anything they like on their website; it does not matter if they made up the data to fit their theory.

What is the best way to decide if the Research Paper you have uncovered is worth looking at as a sound basis for your work?

The surest gauge of quality in data is looking only at trusted websites. Using your preferred browser you can specify “academic” or “scholastic” in the search line. Another way of searching for trusted websites is asking for a recommendation from a fellow student about which sites he or she used for their studies.

But you have the perfect source but it is not where you expected it to be. Examine the work very carefully and check if it meets certain criteria of quality.

Judging the value of a Research Paper


  1. Check the methods used by the author are compatible with the question asked. A good paper will list the methods the author used in evaluating his or her information. Make sure that the answers are not of the type that can be easily preselected or specified in advance.
  2. Does this source fit in with the whole body of current literature? Does it stand out like a sore thumb when compared with the current theories or does it mesh harmoniously? If the references lead you back to trusted sources, then you might have good information.
  3. Is the presentation correct? The arguments should be clearly laid out with careful referencing of the original evidence.
  4. Have both negative and positive viewpoints been shown? You might want to check if any search has been made for issues that might negate the original argument.
  5. Have the offered results addressed the original issue? Whether positive or negative, the answer to the thesis statement should be present in the conclusion.
  6. Are there any issues arising from confidentiality and ethics to be considered in the methods the author used?

If all else fails, you can ask your tutor for an opinion. This is the option if you are completely stuck, but it is better than providing an unsuitable reference on which to base your work.

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