Research Critique: Article Analysis Essay

Research Critique: Article Analysis Essay

Research critique is a profound process that entails comprehensively analyzing research works to extract the meaning and determine whether they align with the tenets of scholarly research. Article analysis entails critically assessing and appraising journal articles to gain insights into the primary talking points, determining the evidence’s applicability in research endeavors, and identifying possible flaws in the scholarly article. According to Dale et al. (2019), critiquing research evidence contributes to informed decisions and enables healthcare professionals to improve patient outcomes through evidence-based practice. When analyzing a journal article, it is crucial to understand the principles of scholarly writing and the intricacies of writing an abstract, introduction, research instruments, methodologies, hypothesis, data collection tools, discussion, and conclusion. An understanding of these sections will enable the identification of the article’s strengths, limitations, and findings’ generalizability. Consequently, this paper analyzes the article, Counselors’ Perceptions of Ethical Behaviors, by Neukrug & Milliken (2011).

Article Analysis

What questions/hypotheses did the research investigate? What are the key variables of interest in this study?

The study by Neukrug & Milliken (2011) aimed to investigate and explore counselors’ perceptions of ethical and unethical behaviors by responding to a 77-item survey of counselor behaviors and identifying whether each was ethical or unethical. Although the researchers did not adequately provide information regarding the study’s hypotheses and the research question(s), it is possible to extract dependent and independent variables. In this sense, the dependent variable tested in the study was the participants’ perceptions and understanding of ethical and unethical behaviors. Their perceptions and knowledge of ethical and unethical behaviors during counseling practices tend to vary considering the participants’ age, gender, self-identified specialty area, ethnicity, education attainment, and current position held (Neukrug & Milliken, 2011, p. 208). Therefore, participants’ age, gender, ethnicity, education attainment, self-identified specialty areas, and positions were independent variables that significantly impacted the dependent variable.

Sample description. Why was that sample chosen? How was it decided? What biases could exist in this sample selection?

The study involved 535 participants who responded to E-mail based survey questionnaire (28%) of 1,795 contacted American Counseling Association (ACA) members). Initially, the researchers targeted 2000 ACA members’ email addresses by sending an initial and four follow-up emails over three months. These emails included: a 77-item survey URL, an informed consent statement, and an explanation of the survey. Also, the researchers used these emails to inform potential respondents about a random draw that would enable them to win one of four $50 gift certificates to the ACA bookstore if they responded to the survey (Neukrug & Milliken, 2011, p. 2017). This was an ideal strategy for improving the response rate.

The sample selection instruments involved the consideration of demographic information, including gender, age, ethnicity, counseling specialty area, current position held, professional membership to the American Counseling Association (ACA), exposure to ethical education, and academic attainment (highest degrees held). These sample selections yielded more female respondents (78.5% of the total sample), more respondents with a Master’s degree (65% of the participants), and most Caucasian (82.1% of the total respondents). Further, there was a relatively even split among participants aged 20 to 60. Although the sample selection criteria resulted in a highly-diverse sample, these interventions may have exacerbated various selection biases.


The potential selection biases in the study include self-selection, under-coverage, and non-response bias. Self-selection bias may occur when potential participants with specific characteristics enroll for the study. In the study, most participants were Caucasian (82.1%). This aspect may have compromised the validity and generalizability of the study’s findings. Secondly, under-coverage bias occurs when some variables are poorly represented in the target population. For example, the ethnicity and gender variables were underrepresented in the study. Finally, non-response bias happens when a section of the target population fails to enroll in the study due to factors that make them differ significantly from the rest. For example, poorly-designed survey questions and people’s unwillingness to provide personal information may contribute to non-response (participation) bias.

What potential ethical issues exist in this study?

Studies involving human subjects are often susceptible to various ethical considerations and issues that revolve around bioethical principles of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice. According to White (2020), human subjects protection is an ever-evolving issue that aims at preventing the exploitation of research participants by safeguarding their voluntary participation, informed consent, confidentiality, protection from potential harm, anonymity, disclosure of information, and results communication. In the survey study by Neukrug & Milliken (2011), the researchers complied with ethical standards for scientific research by explaining the purpose of the survey, providing informed consent statements, reserving the participation decision to respondents, and requesting approval from the college’s human subjects committee (Neukrug & Milliken, 2011, p. 207). These aspects enabled them to avoid conflicts, harm the participants, or violate ethical standards.

Data collection procedures

The researchers used a revised 77-item survey from the 88-item Gibson and Pope (1993) scale. The respondents were required to identify each item as ethical or unethical and rate how strongly they felt about their response. Based on the participant’s responses, the researchers converted the mean scores of items endorsed as unethical to negative numbers to distinguish them from ethical responses. Therefore, a -10 to -1 score represented unethical responses, while +1 to +10 represented ethical items. Using Scale 1 to represent items identified as ethical or unethical, the researchers performed chi-square tests on all items as a function of demographics. Also, they controlled type 1 errors by setting significance at p<.001. The researchers examined the statistical significance of gender, age, specialty area, current position held, ethnicity, and degree.

The data collection and analysis tools used in the study enabled the researchers to focus on the purpose of the study. For example, a 77-item survey allowed respondents to identify counselor behaviors as ethical or unethical. This strategy was straightforward. Secondly, the researchers explored the statistical significance of participants’ responses based on their gender, age, specialty area, current position held, and degrees (Neukrug & Milliken, 2021). This data analysis intervention was consistent with the determination to establish the correlations and associations between dependent variables (participants’ perceptions and understanding of counselors’ ethical and unethical behaviors) and independent variables, including respondents’ age, educational attainment, position held, and ethnicity.

What were the results? How do the results affect your understanding of this issue?

The study revealed varying perceptions of ethical and unethical behaviors in counseling relative to participants’ age, ethnicity, self-identified specialty area, and current position. Based on the respondents’ age, young counselors considered accepting clients only from specific cultural groups, keeping clients’ records in an unlocked file cabinet, and accepting clients only male or female as slightly more unethical than older counselors. Relative to gender, women considered the following behaviors as slightly more unethical than men: trying to persuade clients to have an abortion, not informing clients of their legal rights, and referring a client unhappy with their homosexuality for reparative therapy (Neukrug & Milliken, 2011, p. 208). Finally, Caucasian respondents perceived the following behaviors as slightly more ethical than other ethnic groups: self-disclose to a client, encouraging the client’s autonomy and self-determination, publicly advocating for a controversial cause, consoling clients, and attending a client’s wedding or graduation, or other formal ceremonies.

Based on these findings, I acquired insights into factors influencing individual perceptions and awareness of ethical and unethical behaviors in counseling. Initially, I believed that counselors’ perceptions of ethical or unethical behaviors relied exclusively on comprehending set organizational and professional standards. However, the findings necessitate considering individual aspects, including age, gender, ethnicity, education attainment, self-identified specialty area, and current position in the organization. When developing an education program for counselors, it is crucial to consider these individual variables.

What did you learn about ethical standards and decision-making from this study?

The study by Neukrug & Milliken (2011) provides insights into the rationale for complying with ethical standards that guide research endeavors. For instance, the study emphasizes the need to safeguard respondents’ autonomy and self-determination when enrolling for the survey, the importance of disclosing information to potential participants, and the importance of seeking approval from relevant regulatory committees when conducting research involving human subjects. Also, the study encourages using simplified and updated survey instruments to improve data collection and analysis. Applying these ethical considerations in research processes to avoid conflicting interests and promote respondents’ autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice is possible.



Dale, J. C., Hallas, D., & Spratling, R. (2019). Critiquing research evidence for use in practice: Revisited. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 33(3), 342–346.

Neukrug, E. S., & Milliken, T. (2011). Counselors’ perceptions of ethical behaviors. Journal of Counseling & Development, 89(2), 206–216.

White, M. G. (2020). Why human subjects research protection is important. The Ochsner Journal, 20(1), 16–33.


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Quickly skim the questions or assignment below and the assignment rubric to help you focus.

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Research Critique: Article Analysis

This week you will analyze a peer-reviewed research article on differences in counselors’ perceptions of ethical standards.

Read the following article:

Neukrug, E. S., & Milliken, T. (2011). Counselors’ perceptions of ethical behaviors. Journal of Counseling & Development, 89(2), 206-216.

After reading the article, answer the following questions:

What questions/hypotheses did the research investigate? What are the key variables of interest in this study?

Describe the sample. Why was that sample chosen? How was it chosen? What biases could exist in this sample selection?

What potential ethical issues exist in this study?

How did the researcher gather data in the study? Were the data gathering techniques appropriate for the purposes of the study? In other words, did the data collection procedures produce data that allowed for the accurate examination of the original questions/hypotheses for the study?

What were the results? How do the results affect your understanding of this issue?

What did you learn about ethical standards and decision-making from this study?

Assignment Expectations:

Length: 1250 – 1500 words (5 to 6 pages)

Structure: no title or reference page required address each question in a numbered list

References: no references required

Format: save your assignment as a Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx), Open Office (.odt) or rich text format (.rtf) file type

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