How to read a research article


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How to read a research article

  2. 2. TYPES OF SCHOLARLY ARTICLES • Not every article in a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal is a research article. There are several other types you may encounter: • News, book reviews, opinion/editorials, letters to the editor • Theoretical articles, relating to abstract principles – do not contain original research • Review articles – summaries of the current research in a field, but not considered to be research articles themselves • Case studies – reports of unusual cases the authors have encountered, not considered to be research • None of these should be used for assignments if your instructor requires that your sources consist of original research.
  3. 3. WHAT IS A RESEARCH ARTICLE? • A research article reports on the results of a study or experiment. It is written by the person or people who did the research. It is new, original work that has not been done before. • Look for these words in the title and abstract: • • • • • • • Study Research Measure Subjects Data Effects Survey Statistical
  4. 4. THE PARTS OF A RESEARCH ARTICLE • Research articles are almost always laid out in a standard format: • • • • • • • • • • Title Abstract Introduction Review of the literature The research question Materials and methods Results Discussion Directions for further research References used
  5. 5. THE ABSTRACT • The abstract is a summary of the article. • It will always appear immediately after the title and list of authors. • The abstract will give you enough information to determine whether you want to use this article as a source.
  6. 6. THE INTRODUCTION • The introduction will describe the problem and give the background information that led to the current research. • It often will mention similar studies, which may also be useful to you as sources.
  7. 7. THE LITERATURE REVIEW • In this section, the authors review other studies that have contributed to knowledge in the same subject. • It gives the reader a summary of other research findings and the current state of understanding of the topic, including areas of incomplete data and questions that remain.
  8. 8. THE RESEARCH QUESTION • The authors explain their hypothesis – the question they were trying to answer with the study they have done. • They should be doing something new, not simply copying what someone else has already done. • The authors may predict what they think they will find, and will test their hypothesis to see if it is true.
  9. 9. MATERIALS AND METHODS I • This section gives the details of the experiment: • How it was conducted • What techniques were used • What subjects were studied • Human or animal? • Cells, molecules or a computer model? • How many people, animals or cells were included in the study • The larger the number of study subjects, the more valid the results • The type of study • Randomized, double-blind, active vs. standard therapy, placebo group
  10. 10. MATERIALS AND METHODS II • In this section you should note: • • • • The sample size The population from which the sample is drawn How well the sample represents the population The response rate of the sample • If the participants were given a survey, how many of them turned it in? • If the participants were in a treatment group, how compliant were they? • The descriptive statistics used to describe the sample • The measures used – how they measured and defined their experimental variables.
  11. 11. RESULTS • This section presents the study’s findings, often using graphs and statistical tables to illustrate. • You will see statistical terms such as: • Mean – the average value of the responses • Standard deviation – how the variables are distributed around the mean. A larger number means the responses are more spread out: they deviate more from the mean. • P-value – a measure of how trustworthy the results are. A pvalue will tell you whether the results are considered statistically significant. When p < .05, it means there is a 95% chance that the differences in the study groups were due to the manipulations of the study, and not due to chance.
  12. 12. DISCUSSION • This section puts the findings into context. What does it all mean? • • • • • • What did the authors find? How do their results differ from those of other studies? Why might the results differ? How can the results be applied to practice? What were the limitations of the study? What remains to be learned?
  13. 13. REFERENCES USED • At the end of the article, the authors will give citations for the references that they used. • You may be able to find sources for your own research within this list.
  14. 14. NEED HELP? • Contact the Daytona State College librarians by: • Phone: (386)506-3518 • In person: • Daytona campus – Building 210, second floor • DeLand campus – Building 1 • Email: Use the Ask A Librarian email link on the library home page -
  15. 15. REFERENCES • Dunifon, R. (2005). How to read a research article. Retrieved from parenting/research/upload/How-20to-20Read20a- 20Research-20Article.pdf • American Association for Cancer Research. (2013). How to read and assess research articles. In Tools for Understanding: Scientific Journal Articles. Retrieved from