Rationale of study
Research on most journal articles has indicated that close to ten percent of the writers work is relevant and of high quality. From a review of more than 4200 published medical reports, only 20% of the search report met the validity criteria whereas a total of approximately 80% had inadequate design. Critical appraisal is therefore essential in providing us with an insight of the authors work so that we can decide whether a reported piece of research material is good enough for decision making. This essay therefore draws the reader’s attention on the need to conduct critical appraisal on research material and inform the need for development of research questions, hypothesis and methodological approaches. It provides a proper understanding on the techniques applied in assessing the validity and reliability of authors writing material. The essay also gives us the definition and better understanding of what constitute a theory and an argument.
A theory is derived from the ancient Greek word “theoria” which has the literal meaning of looking at or viewing. It is simply a set of assumptions, prepositions or accepted facts that attempt to provide a logical explanation on the relationship of a group of observed phenomenon. Theories are expected to follow the principles of rational thought and logic. Usually theories are perceived as mental models of the natural reality and must be based on careful and rational examination of the facts (Hawkins $ Stephen, 1996). The form of a theory is often that of a set of statements or principles devised and repeatedly tested to establish a logical explanation of a group of facts or phenomena. The function of a theory is to state ones point of view or perspective and present a possible finding which can be tested and falsified or proven to be true.
What constitutes an argument is a set of declarative sentences known as the premises which must be followed with another set of preposition known as the conclusion. An argument is only valid if the premises are true and the truth of the conclusion is a logical consequence of the premises. The validity is determined on whether it has a valid logical form or not. However, the validity is not a guarantor of the truth of its conclusion. False premises and false conclusion may constitute a valid argument. A theory is not an argument in itself, but if it offers conclusions with respect to the reasons then it qualifies to be an argument. Theories are built on the basis of the existence of an argument and thus every theory must have an argument behind it. For instance, Darwinian’s theory of natural selection in itself is an argument because it gives reasons for the ability of animals to coexist and survive by the process of adaptability.
Critical appraisal is the process of analysis and systematic evaluation of research work to judge its credibility, value and relevance with the particular study. In simple terms, it is the use of transparent methods to access data from research publications (Cottrell, 2005). This is important to make sense of scientific evidence and produce appraisal checklist on the validity, results and the relevance of the information. Critical thinking is a day to day activity for example buying a second hand car would involve rough process of critical analysis by looking at things like tires, brakes, paint, lighting and many more. After critical thought about each element, one has to ask for extra evidence and do initial evaluation by weighing up the good and bad points and then deciding on whether the car meets the needs to be bought. Analysis involves breaking down particular processes into parts and looking at them more closely. Evaluation is reaching a conclusion through a process of critical thinking and making sound judgment basing on the argument.
The way of critiquing research evidence would differ according to the type of appraisal study. Some of the appraisal techniques used are: the randomized control trials; systematic reviews; observational studies; meta-analysis among others. Systematic reviews are the most effective since they can appraise and summarize numerous primary studies.
According to Bradley 2001, one must have the ability to think critically and objectively and present a well-constructed argument. To critically analyze the work done by others one must first identify the focus of the essay. The essay work is usually written with certain expectations in mind. Secondly, the author’s point of view must be clear. The author must give us his own perspective and position on the subject under consideration. Good evidence must be cited to support the alternative views. The writing must have a particular direction and clarity of objectivity.
Then, a critical evaluation of the line of reasoning must be made. Points and reasons must be indicated in favor of the argument. A logical sequence must be followed on the highlighted points. False premises can be identified and flawed reasoning ruled out.
Moreover, the authors writing must be persuasive. The aim of view is usually to persuade the reader of the author’s position and his informed choice on the conclusion. The author’s point of view need to be presented as a well-reasoned argument that leads to a conclusion based on the evidence presented. The author must develop convincing reasons to build on his conclusion.
Consequently the authors reasons must be evaluated to establish whether their reasons are well founded based on good evidence. Evidence in itself has the broad meaning of a piece of information or example that supports a conclusion. It refers to facts or sources that support an argument. Evidence plays a central role of providing facts around which to build an argument. An argument lacking evidence is windy and contains flimsy details about the facts. With evidence an argument is grounded and given shape. Evidence must be integrated into the essay and a plan drawn on where to place the evidence in relation to the particular points. Another form of evidence one can rely on is criticism. That is claims made by other writers about the work. These critics are referred to as expert witnesses whose ideas provide support for the claims made. Evidence is essential in critical appraisal and form the basis of making a sound valid argument. A good argument must have a sufficient proof based on solid evidence. The available evidence must be identified and evaluated to ensure that the proof is reliable.
Another consideration that must be taken into account is getting engaged in active debate. Critical analysis of the authors work involves engaging in active debate with different points of view. Most essays, reports and seminar work are designed to allow dialogue and debate on major theories and issues addressed. This offer opportunity for one to read, reflect, question and evaluate in order to weigh up the arguments and identify the strengths and weaknesses.
The next step in critical analysis is checking on the structure of the argument. The reasons and evidence must be properly organized. The aim is usually to strengthen the argument by presenting the evidence and preposition in a clear and logical way without resorting to forceful or emotive language.
Finally, critical analysis involves drawing of conclusions and presentation of one’s view. After critical examination of the work, one has to make his own judgment basing on the findings and evidence provided. A rational judgment must be made on the worth and value of authors work.
Critical analysis of the article who is a tourist
In this essay the article raises questions concerning the concept, “tourist” and discuss the implications of such ambiguities. The use of the term, “tourist” must deploy meanings about social activities and social factors. A critical approach to tourism would involve the use of research critical valuation method to analyze the concept and make a sound judgment on the relevance of the authors work.
The focus of the study must be defined which in this case is an analysis of the way in which the meaning of a tourist has been misconstrued to have different meanings and a discussion of how the impacts upon theoretical and empirical debates on tourism. A critical discussion of prior research on analysis of tourist types and experience is equally important. An appropriate level of reflective attention has not been given to the term “tourist”. The hypothesis should have a clear concise definition of the term tourist which has contextual meaning of social life and activities within the social discourses.
The article has an in depth evaluation of data through samples, summaries and experience described in the tourism sector. This provides us with the relevance of the article in relation to the subject of study. Also the validity is enhanced by provision of proof of authentic evidence in the existential tourist experience.
The research builds on by providing the simple explanation of a tourist, the types of tourism, tourist experience and goes on to highlight the difficulties and misconstrued conception of the meaning, its impacts and implications. This is a well-built essay in which the reader is drawn to the side of the author. It provides the basis for persuasion which is necessary to build up sufficient proof and evidence to support ones argument. The article has a proper logical structure to strengthen the argument and present preposition in a clear and logical way.
The essay has also been designed in a way to engage the reader in active debate and present his perspective. The author criticizes on the use of the word, “tourist” and provide relevant material needed to engage the reader in active debate. The reader is able to make his own personal judgment and acknowledge the stand of the author.
Problems associated with critical appraisal
There is one major problem encountered in critical appraisal. One can assess the truth of their conclusion by examining the content of the publications. The limitation lies in the distinction between the soundness and validity. Validity describes the methodology or process used in the study whereas soundness gives the originality of the data. It therefore follows that critical appraisal examines the validity of the study but doesn’t develop the truth on the soundness of the conclusions.
Another limitation associated with critical appraisal is academic fraud. Academic fraud is where information is misleading or acts of plagiarism have been committed. Unfortunately academic fraud cannot be detected by critical appraisal (Chan, 2008). Whistle blowers or discrepancies of the study results are used to reveal academic fraud but this may take years to come to be discovered. It is unethical for researchers to repeat previous studies yet independent corroborations of the findings can only be used to reduce our vulnerability to academic fraud.
Incomplete and inadequate reporting hampers the effort of critical appraisal. To comprehend the results readers must be able to understand the design, conduct analysis and make interpretations. However, complicacy associated with critical analysis has proven to be difficult to solve due to insufficient material, academic fraud and the limitations on the soundness of the conclusions.
A theory is a preposition and attempts to provide a sound explanation of the cause and reason of occurrence of a natural phenomenon. A theory constitutes an argument only if it offers conclusions with reasons to support such basis. The legacy of critical analysis challenges us to devise empirically sound and descriptive powerful investigations when analyzing other peoples work. It provides for an analytical strategy for the material and broader understanding of the wider context. An evaluative and selective approach enable one form his own opinion through improved ability in making judgments, seeing more clearly through flawed reasoning and making informed choices. Critical appraisal is vital to be able to interpret properly. A basic understanding of the study designs and statistical principles are needed for critical appraisal of research.
- Bradley.P, 2001, European Journal of Public Health, Volume 11
- Cottrell. S, 2005, Critical Thinking Skills, Palgrave Macmillan ltd
- Walton .D, 1998, A Handbook for Critical Argumentation, Cambridge, Clarendon Press
- Hawking & Stephen (1996), History of Theory, New York: Bantam Books, p. 15.
- Hillman et al, 2005, Introduction of the medical emergency team (MET) system: a cluster-randomized controlled trial. Lancet; 365(9477):2091-7
- Chan.A, 2008, Critically appraising the work of others, united states
- Atkinson. D, 1997, Critical approach to critical thinking in Tesol, Tesol Quartely, vol 31, pp 71-94