|(a) the purpose of the paper:
Why is this paper written? What do the authors claim their specific goal is in writing this
paper? In every paper you will read, there will be a statement similar to the following: “The
purpose of this paper is to…” or “In this paper, I will examine…” or “This paper will discuss
(b) the gap in the literature that the authors fill:
When you read the previous literature critically, you will understand what has, and has not been
studied. The gap in the literature refers to what is yet not done in the field, or the aspects that
have not yet been explored or are under-explored. It could be a research question not asked
before or a population or sample not yet studied or a research methodology that suits best to
answer the question at hand. The gap in the literature constitute the basis for the authors to ask
their question and conduct their analysis. You will evaluate the paper not in isolation but against
(c) the hypothesis tested, or the research questions asked
The hypothesis is the formal statement that presents usually the expected relationship between
an independent and dependent variable. The research question is mainly a hypothesis asked in
the form of a question. You need to identify the main and if there are additional research
questions of the paper.
(d) the data and the methodology used
You need to describe how the authors test their hypothesis or answer their research question. In
the data section you need to explain what data is used by the authors including the data base
used or the primary data collection method employed, data period, frequency, dependent and
independent variables and why they are needed to answer the research question. In the
methodology section you should describe what was done with the data and how it was done to
answer the research question. For example you need to critically evaluate why the experiment or
the regression model used by the authors and leads to the results.
(e) the findings of the paper
This is where you discuss the main results the authors report based upon the data they gathered
and the methodology they applied. Sometimes there could be too many robustness tests. Make
sure you can identify the main results and the results that refer to robustness of main results.
(f) a critical review: the contributions and the shortcomings of the paper
For each paper you read make sure to review it critically. This refers to the contributions and the
shortcomings of the paper. What did you learn? What is the contribution to existing knowledge?
What remains unknown? Now that the research question is answered, can you think of a follow
(g) your suggestions about future research
Now that you have read this paper and you identified the contributions and shortcomings does
that make you think about the next step? Can you think of another area or another application of
the data or methods they used? Can you think of a follow up question? This is especially
important as it will constitute a beginning to finding the focus of your coursework that you will
be submitting for assessment.
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