readarticle.f09 - How to Read (and Write) a Psychology...

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How to Read (and Write) a Psychology Article Virginia Valian Hunter College (copyright Fall 1991; revised Fall 1995; revised Fall 2005; revised Fall 2009) There are two types of psychology articles: 1) reports of experiments or studies – research articles; 2) reviews or presentations of a theory – theoretical articles. Research articles always include some review of previous literature and theoretical orientation in the introduction, but the emphasis is on empirical results. Theoretical articles always include some description of research results, but the emphasis is on integrating a body of findings and offering an explanation of a variety of results. The order of the sections of an article does not necessarily reflect either the order in which you will read it or the order in which the author(s) wrote it. In reading an article, it is important to read first for gist, and then for details. In a research paper, the main points are usually at the beginnings and ends of the introduction and discussion sections, and sometimes at the beginning and end of the results section. Read the introduction and discussion sections first. In a theoretical paper, the main points are likely to be at the beginnings and ends of the first and last sections of the paper. Expect to read an article several times: skim it the first time to get an overview; read in more detail on your next passes in order to fill in details. Don't try to take in everything at once. In writing an article, it is important to give summary information at the places readers expect to find it. Keep in mind that a paper is a persuasive document. The author is trying to convince you of something. When you are a reader, you read to see if you agree with the story the author is telling. When you are a writer, you tell a story you hope the reader will agree with. The method and the results are the key to the success of the venture. If the methods lack critical controls, for example, other interpretations of the data than the one the author is providing are possible. If the results are messy or do not support the interpretation, the story will not be convincing. Since the method and results are the most technical parts of a paper, the inexperienced reader is at something of a disadvantage in being able to tell whether the interpretations the author offers are warranted. Research Article A research article is typically divided into the following sections: 1) abstract, 2) introduction, 3) method, 4) results (including tables and figures – placed at the end of the paper when you are writing it), 5) discussion, 6) references. (In some cases there are also footnotes and appendices.) 1) Abstract . The abstract is between 100-250 words; it is printed first, and usually is in smaller type than the rest of the article. The abstract gives the reason for performing the study, a
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Valian, How to read (and write) a psychology article 2 summary of the sample and the methods used, a summary of the results, and a statement about the
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This note was uploaded on 01/31/2011 for the course PSYCH 100 taught by Professor Ryan during the Fall '08 term at CUNY Hunter.

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readarticle.f09 - How to Read (and Write) a Psychology...

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