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After finding several articles pertinent to an area of interest, how does someone go about digesting the material?

Most psychological articles are technical reports that are filled with sometimes complex language, statistics, and graphs, and it takes practice to understand them. To better understand the peculiar language and unfamiliar structure of psychology, I suggest two methods: Become familiar with the consistent structure of articles in psychology. 1. Title and affiliation of the author. 2. Brief summary or abstract. 3. Body of the paper including a review of previous studies. 4. Description of the experiment and the results. 5. Discussion of the findings with the references. Students should look at an article and try and identify these components.
This form was originally designed by Robert Solso (2003). It has bee slightly modified.

Read

with an inquiring mind.

The first step is to carefully read the abstract. This will provide you with a framework with which to understand the rest of the article. Next, skim the article to gain an overview of the problem, the design, and the conclusions. Read the article for details. Review the article and identify the most important points. Ask questions when reading.

For example, What is the relationship between past results and the current experiment? Someone could also question the methods, the results, and the conclusions that the investigator reaches.

Once you have done this, fill out the form

After reading an article the student should fill out a copy of the form:

Topic: Formal APA Style Citation: Search Criteria & Data Base: Problem of Study: Research Method Used: Variables (DV and/or IV): Results: Authors Interpretation: Future Research: Your Criticisms:

I have found that many students keep these brief reviews and refer to them later in their careers. Even seasoned researchers have found forms like this useful. Those who consistently record their summaries of articles will have a sizable collection of reviews in a short time, and this will inevitably prove useful later when developing research ideas.
This form was originally designed by Robert Solso (2003). It has bee slightly modified.

What

is the design (i.e., descriptive, correlation, experiment)? Random assignment, groups? Sampling? Cause-and-effect? Correlational? Reliability & Validity of Instruments How is the variable measured across studies Demographics (i.e., representative samples) How large a difference (not just statistically significant) Flaws within studies

In

groups of 2-3, critique the article assigned last class. Divide the critique among each other.

What was the muddiest point for you?