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Overview: Research process


1: Develop a search strategy

More background sources

Other search documentation guides

2: Find scholarly sources

Searching APA PsycInfo Part 1

Searching APA PsycInfo Part 2

Key databases

Video coming soon!

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)

3: 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

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