Sample Education Article Review on Qualitative Research Critique


The perfect qualitative research paper reflects various qualities from the introduction to the conclusion. Delivering the best research paper requires determination and focus to the minutest details pertaining to each section. While most of the studies achieve their objectives, it is difficult to find a perfect one which satisfies all the necessary requirements for a successful qualitative research project. Hannula & Lehtinen (2005), managed to express their research objectives and to accomplish them satisfactorily. The ensuing sections of this paper endeavor to determine whether the authors had the skills to deliver a satisfactory research paper at the time of study or not. Evaluations are performed of each of the sections of the qualitative research paper by Hannula & Lehtinen in accordance with the guidelines for qualitative research completion by Anderson (2010) and general guidelines for qualitative research from various sources.

Research Abstract and Introduction Sections

The study begins with an abstract which provides an overview of the study through a statement of the study objective, methods as well as the findings. In terms of content, Hannula & Lehtinen (2005) managed to effectively give the reader a perception of what to expect from the study. The study based on a qualitative approach, gives the reader the zeal to continue reading the rest of the study. This is based on the fact that while the authors clearly state the purpose and findings of the research, they do not do so in a way to lead the researcher into conclusions from the abstract. As such, one gets only enough information to understand the premise of the study. Similarly, the introduction section satisfies most of the requirements in terms of content. The first check for a qualitative research introduction is the background of the study. The most commendable approach to writing a qualitative research introduction is to use the reverse marketing technique, whereby the author provides a background to the problem before stating their objectives in finding a solution to the same. In Hannula & Lehtinen (2005), the authors have provided sufficient background information on the problem and state the study objectives mid-way through the introduction.

From the background information, the problem can be deduced to be significant in the essence that there is no clear information on the concept of children spontaneous focusing on numerosity. The authors therefore aimed at understanding the relationship between children’s SFON and the tasks to be performed. Throughout the background and the statement of study purpose in the introduction, the authors used sufficient supports for the study. Each point made is supported by strong empirical evidence from a recognized source hence portraying the credibility of the study. Structurally, the authors could have done better by having each of the different aspects of the introduction on its own, probably separated into different paragraphs. This could have helped them to monitor their performance in terms of addressing the specific elements of the introduction.

Literature Review Section

The literature review section of the study builds on the problem background and also provides a summary and synthesis of the past researches on the same subject. For this reason, the literature review section should begin by communicating an overview of the research objectives and purpose of the study. Hannula & Lehtinen have no clear literature review section. The literature review is incorporated into the introduction such that after statement of the study objectives in the introduction section, the paper eases into a report and synthesis of the findings of different pieces of literatures from past studies. While presenting past findings, the authors seemingly considered aspects of research accuracy, validity and reliability before presenting the results. Each of the sources used in the article is supported by information from other sources, each of which is reliable. Given the structure of the paper, the purpose of the literature review section is not stated. The authors however focused on synthesis of each of the materials such that the review section does not appear as a summary. While the literature review is not structural, all the information provided is aligned to the research objectives. The paper addresses various aspects of the study and reflects on the findings of other studies such that the reader can be able to see how relevant the findings are to the study. The literature review not only informs the reader but also provides a justification for the qualitative approach to research.

Methods Section

The methods section of a qualitative research paper should be informative enough to enable repeatability of the entire exercise. The methods section should possess various characteristics, which are useful in ensuring consistency in the process. Some of these characteristics include instrumentation, description of the research participants and the operational procedures among others. Based on an overview of the entire paper by Hannula & Lehtinen (2005), the research methods section is the best written in the entire collection based on content as well as the context and structure of the paper. The authors explained the participant selection and participation process. The research was conducted with a total of 39 participants, each of whom contributed to the final research conclusions. The methods section goes further to describe the design of the study as well as study instrument. In terms of instrumentation, the paper used effective checklists and questionnaires to guide formulation and development. Instruments were also changed from the participants in one age group to another.

The authors also described a data analysis procedure, aimed at making sense of that data from interviews. The structure of the methods section is also perfect for the intended objective. Based on the structure and content of the methods section, it can be deduced that the methods allow for the research objectives to be addressed. The research questions, though implied rather than stated clearly, can be answered satisfactorily due to the depth into which the researchers go. The use of different methods targeting different research objectives is also effective in ensuring that all questions are answered holistically. Both descriptive and textual analytical techniques were used in the study to reflect the objectives and potential findings from the research. According to Labaree (2009), a qualitative research methodology should also discuss the anticipated problems in the conduct and/ or analysis of the findings. As such, the lack of communication of the anticipated challenges in the study can be considered as a weakness of the methodology section in the present study. One of the limitations that the authors could have mentioned is associated with the selection of the sample population for the research. The authors did not discuss any rationale for their selection of the ample population used. It could limit the potential for generalizability of the study findings.

Results and General Discussion Sections Overview

The result section draws from the methods section in that a researcher cannot give findings that are unrelated to the methods used. The three tenets for evaluating the research findings include relevance to the research hypotheses, the research questions and the research objectives (Stenius, Makela, Miovsky & Gabrhelik, 2017). While writing the qualitative research report, the results section should report on whether the study has been effective in addressing the questions and whether they agree with or go contrary to the research hypothesis. In Hannula & Lehtinen’s paper, there was no explicit statement of the research questions or the hypotheses in the introduction section. However, the findings can be deduced to be reflective of the research objectives. The authors also used descriptive statistics in the reporting of the research findings. Correlations from statistical data analysis were reported as well based on the methodology described. The authors opined that there were significant correlations between all the SFON measures analyzed in the study. The authors also provided reports based on path analysis of the information collected from the different methods employed.

According to Wu, Thompson, Aroian, McQuaid & Deatrick (2016), qualitative research results are mostly integrated with the discussion section to provide justifications to every findings and to connect the literature review roots to the primary research conclusions. In the paper under evaluation, the authors somehow achieved this combination by segmenting the results section into two distinctive aspects following the methods section. The first segment addressed the objectives of the first section of the methodology inclusive of a discussion of the findings from that section, same as the second part of the results. The research findings can therefore be said to be reflective of research objectives. Labaree (2009a) also recommends that when writing the results section of the paper, a report of each findings should be followed by a discussion of the same or a description of how it relates to the rest of the paper and to the research objectives. Hannula & Lehtinen can thus be said to possess the skills required for writing an effective qualitative research results.

From the discussion of the second section of the results which is based on the second section of methods description, the authors conducted a general discussion to consolidate the entire research and thus provide  a rationale for its conduct. The general discussion section begins by stating the research hypotheses which was centered on the stability of SFON. The section goes ahead to describe how the results match the hypothesis and how they support the stability of SFON. The section reflects exactly what Labaree (2009a) asserts should be the format of the results section of a qualitative research paper. While the previous results sections described the empirical findings from the study, the general discussion section provides the descriptive and more informative results for the study as well as the fit with the literature and the relevance to the research objectives and the methodology. It is also in the general discussion section that the researchers stated the limitations of the study in terms of its small sample size. This should have appeared in the methods section or in the conclusion section as part of the justification for proposing larger sample sizes when conducting such social science researchers.

Given the information provided in the general discussion section, the paper appears a bit confusing. On a positive note, the paper possesses all the requirements of a qualitative research study. On the negative side, the paper structure is such that the initial sections do not provide all the information they should while the general discussion is loaded with a lot of information. The conclusion should however reflect the findings from the overall study experience.

Conclusion and References Section

The research conclusion given by the authors is clearly warranted based on the methods, results and the general discussion. The combination of secondary information and findings from primary research forms a clear basis for conclusion. The flow of the section also makes it informative and inspirational for future studies. The authors begin from a description of findings and how they relate to research hypotheses and objectives and then follow on it with a description of how the study inspires new thinking into the subject of SFON. The conclusion should paraphrase the findings from different research sections. In the study by Hannula & Lehtinen (2005), the conclusion is well written and powerful.

The references section also reflects the depth of the study. Validity of a research paper relies on the quality of the sources used to a large extent. Hannula & Lehtinen used powerful and reliable resources to accomplish their research objectives. The authors also ensured that all sources were clearly stated in-text and also in the reference list. The list is comprehensive, comprises of relevant and authoritative sources and is also consistent in terms of citation styles. In general, it can be deduced that the authors did a substantial research and that their findings are accurate, reliable and valid. Without the support of reliable sources, the primary research may have been done greatly but the research would be invalid.



Anderson, C. (2010). Presenting and evaluating qualitative research. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 74(8), 141. Retrieved from

Hannula, M.M.  & Lehtinen, E. (2005). Spontaneous focusing on numerosity and mathematical skills of young children. Learning and Instruction, 15, 237- 256.

Labaree, R.V. (2009). Organizing your social sciences research paper: 6. the  methodology. USC Libraries. Retrieved from

Labaree, R.V. (2009a). Organizing your social sciences research paper: 7. the results. USC Libraries. Retrieved from

Stenius, K., Makela, K., Miovsky, M. & Gabrhelik, R. (2017). How write publishable qualitative research. In Babor et al. (Eds.). Publishing addiction science: A guide for the perplexed. London:  Ubiquity Press. Retrieved from

Wu, Y.P., Thompson, D., Aroian, K.J., McQuaid, E.L. & Deatrick, J.A. (2016). Commentary: Writing and evaluating qualitative research reports. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 41(5), 493- 505. Retrieved from