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Overview: Research process

 

Develop a search strategy

More background sources

Other search documentation guides

Find scholarly sources

Searching APA PsycInfo Part 1

Searching APA PsycInfo Part 2

Key databases

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More databases

  • "Articles" page of the Psychology Library Guide

More search techniques

 

Scholarly articles in psychology typically have the following characteristics

  • Published in scholarly peer-reviewed journals
  • Written by reputable authors (Eg. professors at universities or professionals in the field)
  • Follow a traditional format. Eg. Abstract, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion
  • Use highly technical language
  • Reference other scholarly works
  • Include a 'digital object identifier' (or DOI)

Empirical vs. review articles

Empirical Articles Review Articles

An Empirical Article will report on data gathered and analyzed as part of an original experiment. There will be...

  • At least one experimental group and a control group of study participants 

  • A methods section in which the researchers describe how they have collected and analyzed data.

  • Quantitative and/or qualitative data used to make a claim about the effectiveness of a treatment. 

A review article will take a number of empirical articles, and perform some analysis.
There are a few different types:

  • Literature Reviews give a broad overview of a given topic at a moment in time. 

  • Systematic Reviews are a rigorous review of primary research articles, with explicit inclusion criteria. They're often used in the Health Sciences to gauge the effectiveness of specific interventions. Systematic reviews will discuss their inclusion criteria, search methods, and occasionally their search statement in the article. 

  • Meta-Analyses are statistical syntheses of collected data, as part of a systematic review.

Read, summarize and cite sources

Reading articles

Scholarly articles often follow a similar format. This makes it easy to hop around the article and gather the most important information. Here are some tips for getting started.

  1. Read the abstract and introduction
    Provides an overview of what the article is about, and it should include the research question, methodology used, and some of the results. The abstract should tell you if the article is relevant to your assignment.

     
  2. Read the discussion and conclusion (at the end)
    The conclusion and discussion will tell you what results of the study and how significant the study was.

     
  3. Read the introduction and the body
    If the article seems relevant, go ahead and read the rest of the article.

Summarizing the article

Do the following when reading an academic article

  • Remember to take notes on each section of the article.
  • Focus on the article's main ideas/arguments not minor details.
  • Take notes as you read and group them in sections.
    • Take shorthand notes using your own words, not the words of the author.
    • Group notes using the article's sections: abstract, intro, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion.
  • Write down unfamiliar terms that seem important, to look up later.

Additional resources

Consider the following as you read articles

  • Is there sufficient justification for why the study is being conducted?
    • Did the authors provide evidence of a research gap in the literature?
  • How widely applicable are the findings? Can the findings be explored in a different setting or with a different population?
  • Was the hypothesis clear or easy to find?
  • What are the implications of these findings?
  • Could the research design/methodology/test instrument be applied or tested in a new context?
  • Is there another way to measure the variables of interest?
  • Does the author explain the significance of the research results?

These questions can help you keep track of comparable aspects of the articles you find. They can also guide your search for more articles related to the one(s) you've already found.

See the MRU Library "Citation guides and resources" page for APA 7th edition citation guides.

Presentation resources

The websites below provide access to materials that are either in the public domain, have Creative Commons licenses, or are licensed for educational use.
Please note that it is the user's responsibility to abide by any terms of use stated on these websites.

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