Summary: A scientific paper represents an understanding or viewpoint on a particular subject area. This is the main avenue for expression by scientists and researchers. It is therefore imperative that scientists and also reviewers agree on and know what criteria to use when assessing scientific papers for publication and presentation. The purpose of this paper is to present a concise account on how to evaluate a scientific paper. Key words: scientific paper, evaluation, research.
Introduction: Scientific research can only be valuable if it is reliable and sound. An appropriate method of reviewing scientific papers is adopted to ensure validity and soundness. This method of reviewing is based on the following:
1. Overall assessment: This provides an idea about the general evaluation of the paper. This is normally written last. It may take the form of the general comments such as: (i) Outstanding. (ii) Above average. (iii) Satisfactory. (iv) Satisfactory after major changes. (v) Satisfactory after minor changes. (vi) Unsatisfactory.
2. Objectives: This provides information about the general focus of the paper. Two important questions are often asked. The first question; are the objectives clearly stated? And the second question; is the scope of the research appropriate?
3. Methodology: This provides information about how the study was done, what precautionary measures and what and why controls were used. There are two basic research designs; experimental and observational. There may also be combination of these designs based on the stated objectives. Two important questions are often asked. The first question; is the research design satisfactory? And the second question; are the research methods sound?
4. Originality and Achievement: This provides some information on the contribution of the paper to the advancement of science and technology. Two important questions are often asked. Have the objectives been achieved? Does the research make an original contribution to the discipline?
5. Interpretation: This provides information on what has been found and its significance. There may be different levels of interpretation and this is open to discussion. The most important question frequently asked here is; are the data properly analyzed and interpreted?
6. Presentation. This provides information on the order, neatness, punctuation, smoothness of the writing. The most important question asked is; is the research written in a clear and effective manner?
7. Comments: This section contains information on: (i) The strengths and weakness of the paper and hence the study. (ii) Changes required or suggested.
Conclusion: Evaluation of a scientific paper is a valuable process based on some previously established criteria. The criteria suggested in the present paper attempts to harmonize and to simplify the evaluation process that scientists, researchers and reviewers alike can make use of in an attempt to truly appreciate the contributions of researchers and their scientific writings.