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MSBS 424 & MSBS 444 - Research Methods and Statistics: About Research Articles, Literature Reviews, Etc.

This guide is designed to assist students with research needs in MSBS 424 and MSBS 444.

Structure of a Journal Article

How to Read a Research Study Article

Sections:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Method
  • Result
  • Discussion
  • References

If you don’t see these or similar sections, it's likely not a research study article.


ABSTRACT
  • Brief overview and key points of the study
  • Read to quickly determine the article’s relevance to your topic
INTRODUCTION
  • Hypothesis of the study and review of relevant literature
  • Read for the context of the problem and the prior relevant research
 METHODS
  • Detailed information about the research conducted
  • Includes participants, procedures, instruments, history and background of the instruments chosen, and the variables
 RESULTS
  • Summary of data, including:
    • relationships among variables
    • methodology for statistical analysis
    • P value (construct for significance, .05 or .01)
    • N (sample size)
    • how the results relate to the hypothesis or problem stated in the introduction.
    • Comparisons may be included to clarify findings, or to explore unanticipated findings
DISCUSSION
  • Summary of results in narrative form. 
  • Usually relates the results of the study to prior study results and gives suggestions for further study
 REFERENCES
  • List of the sources cited
  • Sources not directly cited but used as prior reading

Research Article Critique

Evaluative Criteria for Each Section

Statement of the Problem or Hypothesis - Introduction:
  • Problem or Hypothesis clearly stated?
  • Problem significant?
  • Assumptions stated?
  • Limitations stated?
  • Terms defined?
Review of Literature - Introduction:
  • Pertinent literature included?
  • Review of literature well organized?
  • Review of literature is critical?
  • Relationship of the literature reviewed to the problem is apparent?
Procedures/Methods:
  • Research design explained fully such that you could repeat it?
  • Research design appropriate to the problem?
  • Variables well described, such as: population, sampling method, data gathering methods, etc.?
  • Instrument used described and some history and context for this decision given?
  • Measures to assure the validity and reliability of the data collected given?
Data Analysis - Result:
  • Method used to analyze data is well explained?
  • Methods used are applied and interpreted correctly?
  • Results of analysis clearly stated?
Discussion/Summary:
  • Conclusions clearly stated and relevant to the stated problem?
  • Generalizations applied appropriately?
  • Limitations noted?
  • Recommendations for further study appropriate?
  • Tone of discussion is objective?

Source: Hall, B. W., Ward, A. W., & Comer, C. B. (1988). Published Educational Research: An Empirical Study of Its Quality. Journal of Educational Research, 81(3).

Conducting and Writing Literature Reviews

Click the blue link below to download the full text of the chapter, Conducting and Writing Literature Reviews.

Blair L. (2016) Conducting and Writing Literature Reviews. In: Writing a Graduate Thesis or Dissertation. Teaching Writing. SensePublishers, Rotterdam

Conducting a Literature Reiew