Critical Appraisal Form

You should always be a critical reader: question whatever you read--even good pieces of research and writing leave gaps, have biases, have questionable assumptions, and may even include errors. This form may help you to organize your thoughts when reading critically.

Bibliographic Information:  Author, Name. Date. Title of paper. Journal xx:yy-zz.


  1. What is the purpose or research problem addressed in the paper?  Does the author even state it? (e.g., "The purpose of this research being presented in this paper is to predict rare plant species richness in agricultural landscapes from satellite images and topographic data.")

  2. What is the logic of the author's main argument?

  3. List the key points in the paper--particularly as they relate to the main argument.

  4. What research method(s) and analytical procedures were used by the author?
    (e.g., methods: field surveys, secondary data - i.e., collected by others)
    (e.g., analytical procedures: geographic information systems, spatial statistics, descriptive statistics, mathematical/statistical models, content analysis of interview data)
  5. Is the methodological approach and the procedures used appropriate for the research question(s)?  Are there alternatives that may have been more appropriate?  Explain.
  6. (i.e., might the reader have learned more from some other form of analysis?)

  7. What is the main evidence in support of the main argument?
  8. Are you convinced of the validity of the author's main argument?  Explain.
  9. (i.e., Is there enough evidence for the author to makes the claim(s) that s/he does?  Did they find what they claimed to find, or are there equally plausible alternative explanations of the "evidence"?)

  10. How would you rate this paper out of 10, with 1 being very poor and 10 being excellent?
  11. (i.e., compared to other papers you have read how good is this one?)