Critically reading a paper


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Week 2 content for Psychological Research in Practice.

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Critically reading a paper

  1. 1. Psychological Research in Practice (PRIP - 7PS065) Week 2 - Critically Reading Journal Articles
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>The why of critical reading </li></ul><ul><li>The how of critical reading </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand the Structure of a Journal Article </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scan and skim read the article </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Take Notes, Check References and Clarify Any Misconceptions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Try to Answer Key Questions </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. The why of critical reading <ul><li>When studying psychology you will need to read articles published in academic and professional journals. </li></ul><ul><li>You might read these articles as part of a literature review for a paper you are writing, or as a critique of an article. </li></ul><ul><li>However for this module, you will need to understand a wide range of research methodologies in order to select the one that is most appropriate for your research question. </li></ul><ul><li>It is therefore essential that you understand what you are reading and find ways to then summarize the content in a manner in which you will understand the content. </li></ul>
  4. 4. The how of critical reading <ul><li>Although research articles can be complex, if you utilize </li></ul><ul><li>a few simple tactics it can make the process much </li></ul><ul><li>easier: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Understand the structure of a journal article </li></ul><ul><li>2. Scan and skim read the article </li></ul><ul><li>3. Take notes, check references & clarify any </li></ul><ul><li>misconceptions </li></ul><ul><li>4. Try to answer key questions </li></ul>
  5. 5. Understand the Structure of a Journal Article <ul><li>Most articles follow a fairly standardized format that conforms to </li></ul><ul><li>guidelines established by the American Psychological Association </li></ul><ul><li>(APA). Let’s go through the structure: </li></ul><ul><li>Abstract </li></ul><ul><li>This short paragraph-long section provides a brief overview of the article of what was done, why and what was found and concluded. </li></ul><ul><li>Reading the abstract is the best way to get an idea of the content of the paper. </li></ul><ul><li>It also enables you to decide if the article is relevant to your topic of interest. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Understand the Structure of a Journal Article <ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>The second section of the article introduces the research question and reviews previous research and literature on the topic. </li></ul><ul><li>This part of the paper will help you better understand the background of the research </li></ul><ul><li>It will allow you to understand what has previously been found regarding the topic area providing a greater understanding of question at hand. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Understand the Structure of a Journal Article <ul><li>Method Section </li></ul><ul><li>This part of the paper provides details about how the research was conducted. Here </li></ul><ul><li>you will find the following sub-sections: </li></ul><ul><li>Design </li></ul><ul><li>It will formally state and describe the design of the study (experiment, longitudinal, etc.) and the variables of interest (IVs, DVs). </li></ul><ul><li>Include information about how the data were generated (i.e. focus group, interview etc.) and a clear introduction to the analytic approach used </li></ul><ul><li>Participants </li></ul><ul><li>Here there will be information on the number of participants in the study, summary details of any relevant characteristics and how they were sampled. </li></ul><ul><li>Apparatus/Materials </li></ul><ul><li>Details of the materials used and how were they devised will be included. </li></ul><ul><li>Procedure </li></ul><ul><li>This will describe how exactly the study was carried out including details of informed consent, debriefing, etc. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Understand the Structure of a Journal Article <ul><li>Results/ Analysis Section </li></ul><ul><li>This section will include the statistical analysis and detail what researchers found. </li></ul><ul><li>Tables and figures may be included in this section </li></ul><ul><li>Analytic themes will be outlined, supported by quotes in data </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion Section </li></ul><ul><li>In this section, the researchers will interpret what the results actually mean </li></ul><ul><li>They may include limitations of the work and outline implications for future research that should be conducted. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Understand the Structure of a Journal Article <ul><li>References Section </li></ul><ul><li>This section lists all articles and other sources (books, websites, etc.) cited within the article. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Scan and Skim Read the Article <ul><li>Once you’ve understood the basic structure of the article, your first step should be to briefly skim through the paper. </li></ul><ul><li>Do not attempt an in-depth reading of a paper before you have skimmed over it. Doing so may cost you valuable time if you realise the paper was not exactly what you were looking for/ interested in. </li></ul><ul><li>Skimming can allow you to become familiar with the topic quickly. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Take Notes, Check References & Clarify any Misconceptions <ul><li>Once you have determined that the paper is relevant and appropriate for your research topic your next step should be to carefully read through each section. </li></ul><ul><li>Take notes of important points, including any terminology or concepts that you do not understand. </li></ul><ul><li>Once you’ve read the entire article, look up the information that you didn’t understand using another source such as a dictionary, textbook, or online resource. </li></ul><ul><li>You should then go back to the text and re-read the paper. At this point it also makes sense to take notes of who the author(s) have made reference to. </li></ul><ul><li>You might find research on the topic area in which you are interested which may further source your own paper, so check the reference section too if need be. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Try to Answer Key Questions <ul><li>Regardless of the reason for reading the article (for support of </li></ul><ul><li>your own research hypothesis, analysing the article, or </li></ul><ul><li>critiquing the research methods or findings) there are several </li></ul><ul><li>important questions that you should aim to answer as you read the </li></ul><ul><li>paper: </li></ul><ul><li>What is the main hypothesis? </li></ul><ul><li>Why is the research important? </li></ul><ul><li>How is it different from previous research? </li></ul><ul><li>What measurements and procedures were employed? Could an alternative have been utilised? </li></ul>
  13. 13. Try to Answer Key Questions <ul><li>What were the variables in the study? </li></ul><ul><li>What were the key findings? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the drawbacks of the research? </li></ul><ul><li>Have any future research implications been suggested? How could I address these in my own research? </li></ul>
  14. 14. Critical Reading (Four example studies) <ul><li>Now that you have learned some tips about critically reviewing a paper, you’re job is now to critically read the following 5 articles and decide which to focus your research on or whether you would like to form a group with other students on the module that will look at a different topic. </li></ul><ul><li>It is your choice what you choose to investigate but you must provide a good rationale for studying the topic and form a good research question and hypothesis with the others in your group: </li></ul><ul><li>Van Strien, J.W., & Van Beek, S. (2000). Ratings of Emotion in Laterally Presented Faces: Sex and Handedness Effects. Brain and Cognition, 44 , 645–652. </li></ul><ul><li>Ludwig, A.B., Borella, E., Tettamanti, M. & de Ribaupierre, A. (2010). Adult age differences in the color stroop test: A comparison between an item-by-item and a blocked version. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 8, 135-142. </li></ul><ul><li>Novelli, D., Drury, J. & Reicher, S. (2010).Come together: Two studies concerning the impact of group relations on ‘personal space’. British Journal of Social Psychology, 49, 223-236. </li></ul><ul><li>Crossley, M. (2003). ‘Would you consider yourself a healthy person?’: Using focus groups to explore health as a moral phenomenon. Journal of Health Psychology, 8, 501-514. </li></ul>