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Fairly critiquing an investigator's research endeavor is a task that must be taken seriously. Although it is quite easy to have an opinion of another's research it is something quite different to be able to evaluate the research activity in terms of topic specificity and soundness, intent or purpose, data analysis, and informational importance. When embarking upon a critical analysis of another's work the reviewer must, at all times, adhere to the basic principle of prudent evaluation; namely, evaluating the structure of the research upon which scientific conclusion are drawn. More specifically, the function of a research report (article) is to inform readers about the problem being investigated, the methods used to solve the problem, the results of the investigation, and the conclusions being inferred from the results. The printed manuscript is to inform the reader, as expeditiously as possible, what was done, the outcome of the doing, and the investigator's conclusion.
In addition to the above, research reports must be succinct, objective, and crystalline. The ultimate test of an excellent research report is in its ability to be replicated by those who read it. If this criterion cannot be met, then the report is inadequate. The remainder of this review will be an analysis of a particular professional article wherein a group of critically ill patients were randomly assigned to two treatment groups (intensive insulin therapy and standard insulin therapy) to determine if normal blood glucose levels would improve the prognosis by use of insulin therapy. Further, as stated in the assignment guidelines the paper will be pay particular attention to the following: substantive qualities (research problem and purpose, research question and accompanying hypothesis/hypotheses, variable identification, supportive literature, conceptual framework); and design qualities such as research methodology, sampling, statistical data analysis, research ethics, data interpretation, writing and presentation style, and quality of presentation and writing. The article was authored by Van de Berghe et al (2001) and entitled "Intensive insulin therapy in critically ill patients", New England Journal of Medicine, 345:1359-1367.
Substantive Qualities All empirical research reports, whether medical, sociological, psychological, or educational, must first be well-defined, remindful of ambiguity, and reader friendly - even for those who are not pundits in the subject matter being reported upon (Kerlinger, 1967). The first step in informing the reader of a research investigation is to present a clearly defined research problem. To this end the research investigator is obligated to present an issue and or problem that has not been sufficiently resolved in previous research investigative endeavors (Ohlson, 1998). The authors of the current project were, in opening statements, remiss in presenting a well-defined research question. Although the authors advised the reader that insulin therapy (standard and intensive) and adult mortality and morbidity was the focus of the investigation a meaningful presentation with respect to need was omitted. In other words, the authors did not build a medical or healthcare based paradigm for the study. This might have been taken care of by presenting previous reported research data highlighting concerns other investigators had with respect to medical problems associated with glucose levels - mortality rates and critically ill medical consumers.
Following a well-defined research question the research investigators' task is to follow-up with a statement of a testable null hypothesis or hypotheses. The null form of the hypothesis is required in order for the proper application of a statistical data analysis tool to be implemented (Ohlson, 1998). More specifically, the null hypothesis informs the reader whether or not relationships, differences, and or effects between and amongst independent and or dependent variables are being investigated. Simply stating that an attempt to "confer" that an insulin deficiency might or might not affirm a "predisposition to complications" is not adhering to proper scientific research protocol (Van Dalen, 1964). Quite simply, the authors are obligated to state very specifically the direction they expected the results to take. In addition, as the study is quite clearly of experimental design wherein two treatment modalities are being assessed and evaluated the authors are compelled to identify both the independent (treatment) and dependent (measurement or end point) variables. There is no such identification made by the research investigators and the reader has to make the treatment-measurement assumption him or herself. Compounding this problem are the authors' statement
Names mentioned in this term paper
Ohlson, Van de Berghe, Van Dalen, Kerlinger,
Organizations referenced in this paper
New England Journal of Medicine,
Health Conditions talked about in this research material
Keywords mentioned in this research material
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