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Succeeding in postgraduate study
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4.4 Applying critical and reflective thinking in academic and professional contexts: science perspective


This section will focus on three key areas:

  1. important points to consider when critically evaluating (or ‘appraising’) published scientific research papers
  2. practical and professional applications: critical appraisal and the peer-review process for scientific publication
  3. parallels between critical reflective practice and the scientific method.

But first, what do we mean by ‘critical appraisal’ in a scientific context? In the broader sense, ‘critical appraisal’ is a systematic process used to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a research paper. It involves evaluating the quality of a reported study, and there are several aspects to the process. This includes taking a look at the primary aims and methodology, the analysis and presentation of the results, and can be extended to the interpretation and discussion of the findings as well.