Research Paper Analysis: Quick How-to Guide & Example [2021]

Do you need to write a research paper analysis but have no idea how to do that? Then you’ve found the right page. 

While completing this type of assignment, your key aim is to conduct an analysis of a research paper. In most cases, you’ll need to do that to assess the source you are going to use for your academic writing. A thorough critical evaluation of the research can help you decide whether it’s reliable and adequate. Otherwise, you might need to compose a research paper analysis as a separate piece. 

Below, you’ll find how to analyze a research paper. Our experts prepared some useful analysis questions, tips, and tricks for you.

🔎 How to Analyze a Research Paper Step by Step

This analysis will be beneficial for you since it develops your critical thinking and research skills. So, let us present the main steps that should be undertaken to read and evaluate the paper correctly.

Now, let’s figure out what an analysis paper should include. There are several essential elements the reader should identify: 

  • logical reasons for conducting the study;
  • the description of the methodology applied in the research; 
  • concise and clear report of the findings;
  • a logical conclusion based on the results. 

Step 1: Scan the Paper

First, briefly look through the found paper and evaluate whether it’s appropriate for your research. Scanning helps you to start the content analysis and get the general idea of the study.

To scan the paper effectively, follow these simple steps: 

  1. Get familiar with the title, abstract, and introduction. Carefully read these parts and make sure you got the author’s point. 
  2. Read the headings of each section and sub-section. But don’t spend time to get familiar with the content. 
  3. Look through the conclusions. Check the overall one and the last sentence of each section. 
  4. Scan the references. Have you read any of these sources before? Highlight them and decide whether they are appropriate for your research or not.

Have you completed these steps of your research paper’s critical analysis? Now, you should be able to answer these questions: 

  1. What kind of a paper is it (qualitative research, quantitative research, a case study, etc.)?
  2. What is the research paper topic? How is it connected to your subject of study? 
  3. Do you feel like the findings and the conclusions are valid? 
  4. How can the source contribute to your study? 
  5. Is the paper clear and well-written?

After completing this step, you should have a clear image of the text’s general idea. Also, here you can decide whether the given paper is worth further examination.  

Step 2: Examine the Content

The next step leads to a deeper understanding of the topic. Here, again, you can try the following course of action to take the maximum benefit from the evaluation of the source. 

  1. Find the author’s thesis.  A thesis statement is usually the last sentence of the introduction (or several sentences). It is an essential part of the paper since it reflects the author’s main point. Make sure you determined the thesis statement and understood it. 
  2. Consider the author’s arguments. How does the author support his position? What are the key arguments they present in their research paper? Are they logical? Evaluate whether the points are clear and concise enough for any reader to get. Do they support the author’s thesis?
  3. Check the evidence. Try to find all the proof provided by the writer. A successful research paper should have valid evidence for every argument. These can be statistics, diagrams, facts taken from documentaries or books, experiments hold by researchers, etc. 
  4. Determine the limits of the study. An author is supposed to set limits to avoid making their research too broad. Find out what are the variables the writer relied on while determining the exact field of study. Keep them in mind when you decide whether the paper accomplished its goals within limits. 
  5. Establish the author’s perspective. What position does the author take? What methods are applied to prove the correctness of the writer’s point? Does it match with your opinion? Why/ why not? 

Sometimes, even after the second step of evaluation, the writer’s perspective is not evident. What to do in this case? There are three scenarios: 

  1. Stop investigating the paper and hope that you will not need it for your research.
  2. Read some background information on the given topic. Then, reread the paper. This might help you to comprehend the general idea. 
  3. Don’t give up and move on to the next step of the evaluation.  

Step 3: Check the Format and Presentation

At this stage, analyze the research paper format and the general presentation of the arguments and facts. Start with the evaluation of the sentence levels. In the research paper, there should be a hierarchy of sentences. To trace the research paper structure, take a look at the tips: 

  1. First-level sentences. They include only general statements and present the ideas that will be explored further in the paper.
  2. Middle-level sentences. These sentences summarize, give a narrower idea, and present specific arguments. 
  3. Deep-level sentences. They contain specific facts and evidence that correspond to the arguments stated in middle-level sentences. 

Your research paper analysis should also include format evaluation. This task might be challenging unless you have the formatting style manual open in front of your eyes.

Figure out what citation style the author applied and check whether all the requirements are met. Here is a mini checklist you have to follow: 

  • in-text citations
  • reference list
  • quotations
  • title page
  • font style and size, spacing
  • abstract (if needed)
  • appendix (if needed)

Step 4: Critique & Evaluate

This step requires attention to every detail in the paper. Identify each of the author’s assumptions and question them. Do you agree with the author’s evidence? How would you support the arguments? What are your opinions regarding the author’s ideas? 

For starters:

Try to re-implement the entire paper from your perspective and see how your version differs from the initial work. This trick will help you to determine the strong and weak sides of the work. 

Then, move on to criticism. An effective way to evaluate a research paper consists of asking the right questions and assessing the crucial aspects, like:

  1. The author’s objective and whether it was reached. Did you get the author’s main idea? Did the writer reach their aim and explain the arguments in great detail? Remember that even if the reader is not majoring in the study field, they should understand the objective. Is there something that remained unclear for you? In your opinion, what is the cause of your inability to comprehend the material? 
  2. The role in the broader context. Make sure the author’s arguments and evidence sound adequately in the larger context. Do the writer’s ideas contradict social norms. If so, why? Also, check the sources the author uses for their research. Make sure they are reliable and not outdated. 
  3. Grammar and organization. A professional research paper should not contain any mistakes. Make sure the text is flawless regarding grammar and structure. The ideas have to follow the logical flow; the tone should be academic; the paper should include transitions, and so on. 
  4. What the reader learns. The primary aim of an author is to deliver useful information to the reader. Did you, as a reader, find some new insights? Were they relevant and valuable? Consider whether you’ve read something similar before and how the data fit within limits set by the author.

✅ Research Paper Analysis: Key Questions

As you can see, the task requires a lot of time and effort. That is why we’ve prepared a list of questions you should ask while analyzing a research paper. Use them as a ground for critical reading and evaluation.

Research Paper Section Questions to Ask
Abstract
  • Does the abstract clearly describe the paper’s objectives?
  • Does the abstract correspond to the info presented in the research paper?
  • Does the abstract contain any information that is not investigated in the paper?
Introduction
  • Does the author present the reasons for conducting the study?
  • Does the into include background information?
  • Is there a clear thesis statement in the introduction?
Methods
  • Are the methods presented clearly enough?
  • Were the standard or modified methods used?
  • If modified, were the changes explained effectively?
  • Did the author indicate the limitations and the problems that arose while using the chosen methods?
  • Are the selected methods appropriate for the given research paper?
Results
  • Are the findings adequate and logical?
  • Is the data presented precisely?
  • If there are any tables or diagrams, are they easily-understandable?
  • Are the results helpful for the understanding of the topic?
Discussion
  • Did the author meet the objectives?
  • If the author did not meet the objectives, do they provide any explanation for that?
  • Do the findings interpreted adequately?
  • Is the author biased?
  • Does the author discuss the percent of errors that might occur while conducting the research?
References
  • Are all of the outside sources cited?
  • Does the author cite their own work in the research paper?
  • Do the reference list and in-text citations correspond to the chosen formatting style?

Congrats! Now you know how to write a research paper analysis. You are welcome to check out our writing tips available on the website and save a ton of time on your academic papers. Share the link with your peers who may need our advice as well.

🔗 References

Comments (4)

mustafa akhlaghi
mustafa akhlaghi

I would be grateful if you kindly upload a sample of research papers analysis in order to make the points mentioned tangible.

Custom Writing
Custom Writing

Dear Mustafa,
There might be one available on our free essays page – you are welcome to check it out and find out more about the available sample papers that we have! Have a great day!

P.S. Link to the free essays database

James T. Bonner
James T. Bonner

Thanks so much for compiling and sharing this great information on research papers analysis! This is what I need to complete my paper fast and effectively! Thanks again!

Betty Miller-Martinez
Betty Miller-Martinez

When I read your post on research papers analysis, it seems that this is the simplest thing in the world, but I’m afraid of failing. As you were able to write this excellent post, you’ll be able to write a research papers analysis for me too!