Evaluating Research

The purpose of this assignment is to provide students an opportunity to familiarize themselves with published research. The tasks of the assignment are as follows:

Choose an empirical article from a professional journal where the author(s) describe the purpose, method, and results of a scientific investigation. Some examples of relevant journals in Psychology are:


American Psychologist

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance

Journal of Experiment Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition

Motivation Science

Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice

Psychological Assessment

Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment

Health Psychology

Note that not all research articles are complicated reading. As a novice, it might help to browse through the articles until you come upon one that is of interest as well as readable.

1. Identify your article by including a full APA style reference of it at the top of your assignment.

2. Briefly summarize and then evaluate the research article using the headings most common to such empirical reports. These include:

a) The Introduction, which generally states a rationale for the investigation and the purpose of the study. The introduction also reviews relevant research. When evaluating the introduction, keep the following questions in mind.

• Does the introduction provide a convincing outline of what we already know about this field?

• Does it build a justification for the question this particular research will ask?

• Is past research in this area clearly reviewed?

• Is it clear what is being asked by this study?

• Do the authors state the hypothesis?

b) The Method section, which includes a description of the participants, instruments, and procedures.

• Does the methods include enough detail that you would be able to replicate this study with few problems?

• Does the methods outline how participants were selected and assigned to groups?

• Does the author make it clear who the participants were in their study?

• Does the methods section clearly outline what data was gathered and how it was analyzed?

• Are the variables and the methods to measure them clearly defined?

• Are potential confounding variable controlled for?

c) The Results section follows next, which addresses the significant findings of the study.

• Are the results clearly presented with their supporting statistical analyses?

• Are the results presented without a discussion of why they occurred?

• Are good graphs and tables used to summarize data and make it easier for the reader to determine what happened?

d) The Discussion and Conclusion where the author(s) summarize(s) the findings and future directions.

• Are all results found discussed in laymen’s terms?

• Does the author state some conclusions/implications for the results of the study?

• According to their methods and data, are these conclusions correct?

• Did they discuss past findings and whether their data agrees or disagrees with previous data?

• Do they propose future directions for this research?

Note that in writing an abstract you do not want to reproduce or summarize the entire article. Rather, you want to provide the most salient information, as succinctly as possible in each of the aforementioned areas. Further, in some instances you might choose to replicate or incorporate part of the original text. In these cases you MUST put quotation marks around the words you are copying, followed by the page number in parentheses.

3. Type your brief abstract. Use APA formatting: double-spaced, 12 point-font, black print, Times New Roman or Arial font, and one inch margins all around. Put your names in the top right corner.

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