Individual exercises to help test your understanding and knowledge of key areas of text. Complete them to see your strengths and weaknesses.

Have a look at a research paper that you have read recently, containing some form of analysis of empirical information (‘data’, in a broad sense, including e.g. material from interviews or participatory methods), and write down some answers to these questions:

  1. What data are used and how were they collected?
  2. Are the data/results presented well?  Does the presentation communicate the main findings efficiently and effectively?  Can you think of ways of improving the presentation?

Next time you read an empirically based paper, try asking the same questions.


Answering question 1 helps you to better understand the research approach, think through the basis for each conclusion drawn and, too often, discover when the methods used are not sufficiently well explained.

Answering question 2 promotes the sort of critical engagement with social or natural scientific work that leads to a deeper understanding of the material, as well as being a good way of generating ideas for your own research projects.