Title: Critical analysis: a vital element in healthcare research

Authors: Charles Micallef

Addresses: Ministry of Health, 15, Merchants Street, Valletta, VLT 1171, Malta; Kunsill Malti għall-iSport (Malta Sports Council), Spinelli Street, Gzira, GZR 1712, Malta

Abstract: Critical analysis questions literature quality through positive and negative critique. The paper guides students and novice researchers on objective critical thinking and writing for assignment excellence and publication acceptance respectively, and helps clinicians evaluate healthcare and behavioural literature thus taking better decisions for the patient. The article touches the hierarchy of study designs and the critical appraisal principles of causality, reliability, validity and execution including statistical issues. Moreover, it looks at other aspects like title appropriateness, standardised English writing style, data presentation, referencing quality and extraneous factors such as competing interests. Objective measurements should also be critically evaluated. Even a review paper of other peer-reviewed reviews has to be critically evaluated. Creating debate between authors is recommended. Triangulation and reflexivity are important for qualitative research rigour. Issues of originality versus repeatability and ethical aspects including risk assessment and sample size justification are appropriately covered. Critical evaluation questions what the research has contributed to society. An element of scepticism is essential for critical thinking. Critical analysis should first be applied to one's own work by going through a set of ask-yourself-questions.

Keywords: behavioural research; critical analysis; critical appraisal; critical evaluation; critical thinking; critical writing; critique; healthcare research.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBHR.2015.071480

International Journal of Behavioural and Healthcare Research, 2015 Vol.5 No.1/2, pp.104 - 123

Received: 07 Mar 2015
Accepted: 04 Jul 2015

Published online: 29 Aug 2015 *

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