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Reading and writing a journal article

We place a lot of trust in journal articles as valid sources of information and so it is essential that you can determine what is a trustworthy journal article and what is not. Below are a few helpful tips on how to both judge a piece of writing (but also to ensure these inclusions in your own writing.


The section should

Ask yourself


  • Provide the reader with a firm sense of what is done in the study.

  • Introduce the problem/question.

  • Give background on the study.

  • State the purpose and rationale of the research.

  • Is the problem/question researchable?

  • Is it important enough to justify the research?

  • Is the research background relevant to the research question?

Literature review

  • Provide you with a clear overview of the available literature which surrounds the problem being researched.

  • Is the literature review broad, yet focused on the issue being discussed?

  • Does it fairly represent both sides of the opposing views?

  • How convincing is the evidence that support assertions?

  • Did the literature review make use of a theoretical framework?

Research design

  • ​Clearly state what was done and how it was done.

  • Allow the reader to evaluate the used methods, the reliability and consistency of the study, as well as its validity and if it could be replicated.

  • Indicate the sample or participants used in the study, including the amount, their characteristics and demographic information such as location, gender, and age.

  • Indicate the process of obtaining ethics clearance.

  • Indicate the use of apparatus if any were used.

  • Indicate each step of the research procedure.

  • If there was a clear rationale for the chosen research approach?

  • Was the data collection relevant to the research question?

  • Is the method valid and reliable?

Data analysis

  • Summarise the data collected, including the main findings and results, so that it is easy to understand how the conclusions were drawn.

  • Did the manuscript explain the steps involved of the data analysis and were the strategies justified?

  • Was all the data considered? If not, why?

  • Does the data analysis substantiate the claims rigorously enough?


  • Include the evaluation and interpretation of the research results in relation to the research question.

  • Integrate the findings and theoretical framework.

  • Not repeat points already made.

  • Are the results interpreted in relation to the aims and research question?

  • Were the most important results highlighted by the researcher?

  • Were the conclusions drawn correctly from the data analysis?

  • Were the results discussed in relation to the hypothesis, theoretical/conceptual frameworks, and research question?


  • Summarise the main points

  • Indicate the usefulness of the research.

  • Were the main points clearly stated and drawn out?

  • Were there fresh new perspectives and insights provided?

  • Were there any recommendations made based on the research?

  • Are there suggestions for future research?

Reference list/Bibliography

  • Include all the sources used in the article or sources accessed in preparation of the article.

  • Were the sources clearly cited with all the bibliographic details provided?

  • Was reference made to a wide range of works in the field?

  • Are both seminal (classic) and contemporary literature listed?

Compiled by Daniel Schoonderwoerd (Foundation for Professional Development).

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