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HHPE 485 Research Methods: Reading Research Articles

Structure of a Journal Article

How to Read a Research Study Article


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

If you don’t find these sections in a journal article, then you don’t have a research study article.



Brief overview of the article and the key points of the study.  Reading the abstract is an effective way of determining the article’s relevance to your topic.


Contains the hypothesis or the problem the study addresses as well as the pertinent literature review. Reading the introduction should give you the context of the problem and the prior relevant research.



Contains detailed information about the research conducted including the participants, the procedures, the instruments, some history and background of the instruments chosen, and the variables.



Contains the summation of data including the relationships among variables, the methodology for statistical analysis, the P value (construct for significance, .05 or .01), the N (sample size), and 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.



Contains a summation of the results in narrative form.  This section usually relates the results of the study to prior study results and gives suggestions for the direction further study on the topic might take.



Contains a listing of the sources cited in the article such as books and articles, as well as sources not directly cited but used as prior reading. 


Research Article Critique

Criteria for the Evaluation of Research

Statement of the Problem or Hypothesis - Introduction:
  •  Problem or Hypothesis clearly stated?
  •  Problem is significant?
  •  Assumptions stated?
  •  Limitations stated?
  •  Terms defined?


Review of Literature - Introduction:
  • Pertinent literature is included?
  • Review of literature is well organized?
  • Review of literature is critical?
  • Relationship of the literature reviewed to the problem is apparent?


  • Research design is explained fully such that you could repeat it?
  • Research design is appropriate to the problem?
  • Variables are well described such as: population, sampling method, data gathering methods, etc.?
  • Instrument used is described and some history and context for this decision is given?
  • Measures to assure the validity and reliability of the data collected are given?


Data Analysis - Result:
  • Method used to analyze data is well explained?
  • Methods used are applied and interpreted correctly?
  • Results of analysis are clearly stated?


  • Conclusions are clearly stated and relevant to the stated problem?
  • Generalizations are applied appropriately?
  • Limitations are noted?
  • Recommendations for further study are appropriate?
  • Tone of discussion is objective?


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).