Questions to Evaluate the Authority of the Researcher’s Methods

Here are some of the standard questions that academic readers ask when reviewing research reports:

  1. Is the source a first-hand or second-hand account? That is, are the authors reporting results of their own research or reviewing someone else’s work?
  2. Is the source of publication credible? (For example, an essay in the New England Journal of Medicine would influence most physicians’ opinions about a surgical procedure far more easily than an essay in a biweekly community newspaper.)
  3. Do the authors work for research institutes, publications, private companies, or universities? Are they well-known authorities? Can you identify any hidden agendas?
  4. Have the authors followed traditional research methods?