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Reading the Literature

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1 Reading the Literature
Psych 231: Research Methods in Psychology

2 Why review the literature
What is the underlying motivation(s) for doing a review of the literature? Getting ideas. What has been done, what hasn’t been done? Avoid past mistakes. Understanding the relevant theories. What variables are important?

3 What is the literature? Primary Sources - essentially reading the original report Journal articles Edited books (sometimes) Professional meetings Electronic publishing (fairly new, pluses and minuses) Faculty members & other personal communications Secondary Sources - reading a report of the report Literature Reviews Psychological Bulletin, Annual Review of Psychology Text books Citations in books and articles

4 What is the literature? Secondary Sources: Advantages: Disadvantages:
Good starting place Often reviews a lot of relevant literature Relatively brief descriptions Disadvantages: Somebody else’s description May be incorrect May be biased Not enough detail

5 How do I search the literature?
Reference sections of articles, book chapters, and books. Searchable databases (largely replacing printed databases) PsycInfo, PsycLit, Psychological Abstracts, etc. Social Sciences Citation Index – who has cited a particular paper

6 Literature search problems
the library doesn't have it Ask the librarian for help inter-library loan: UIUC library (hours posted at: )

7 The time line of research reporting
Start time (this process may take days to years) Get your idea, run your study, analyze the data Reported results Present at a conference Submit written research report Peer review process

8 The peer review process
Submit the research report to editor of desired journal Editor selects 3 to 4 peers to review the paper This is sometimes a ‘blind’ process Each reviewer reviews the paper & sends editor recommendation Typically first time submissions don’t get accepted Revise and resubmit Eventually the paper is either accepted or rejected “In press” it may be up to a year before an accepted article appears in print Typically it takes up to two years between initial submission and final acceptance

9 The time line of research reporting
Start time (this process may take days to years) Get your idea, run your study, analyze the data Reported results Present at a conference Submit written research report Peer review process Publication in a journal Cited in other research Cited in textbooks

10 The time line of research reporting
Years Send to journal Starts work Finishes work 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 13 Journal publication Textbooks Convention paper Annual Review Psych Abstracts Cited in articles

11 Reading a research article
What's the goal of a research article? The reader to: Know about the research Understand what was done Be convinced by the research (hopefully) Standardization of research report format APA style Organization and content reflects the logical thinking in scientific investigation Standardization helps with clarity Read with a critical eye

12 The anatomy of a research article
The basic parts of a research article : Title and authors - gives you a general idea of the topic and specifically who did it Abstract - short summary of the article States the issue, the methods, major variables of interst, the findings, and the conclusions (in 120 words or less) First contact Shows up in PsycInfo Gets skimmed before reading the article

13 The anatomy of a research article
Introduction - gives you the background that you need What are the issues What is/are the theory(ies) What does the past research say What the rationale for doing this research What are the specific hypotheses Reading checklist 1) What is the author's goal? 2) What are the hypotheses? 3) If you had designed the experiment, how would YOU have done it?

14 The anatomy of a research article
Method - tells the reader exactly what was done Enough detail that the reader could actually replicate the study. Subsections: Participants - who were the data collected from Apparatus/ Materials - what was used to conduct the study Procedure - how the study was conducted, what the participants did Reading checklist 1 a) Is your method better than theirs? b) Does the authors method actually test the hypotheses? c) What are the independent, dependent, and control variables? 2) Based on what the authors did, what results do YOU expect?

15 The anatomy of a research article
Results - gives a summary of the results and the statistical tests Reading checklist 1) Did the author get unexpected results? 2 a) How does the author interpret the results? b) How would YOU interpret the results? c) What implications would YOU draw from these results?

16 The anatomy of a research article
Discussion - the interpretation and implications of the results Reading checklist 1 a) Does YOUR interpretation or the authors' interpretation best represent the data? b) Do you or the author draw the most sensible implications and conclusions? References - full citations of all work cited Appendices - additional supplementary supporting material

17 Next Week Download and read the Strayer & Johnston (2001) article for lab next week Have a good Labor Day See you on Wednesday

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