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PSC/SOC 340/JS 504: Social Science Research Methods

Explanation of the parts of a scientific research article, how to read scientific articles, books about the research process, how to do a literature review, forming hypotheses, research design, research instruments, finding statistics & survey results.

How to Read a Scientific (Research) Article

Articles in scientific journals are called "primary literature". They report the actual study or experiment, the results and conclusions from those results. In the sciences, they usually have been "peer reviewed" - that is deemed worthy of publication by a committee of scientists in the field.

You should approach reading an article in a science research journal with a purpose and a plan. This process is outlined in the, How to Read a Scientific Paper tutorial from Purdue University linked below.

How to Read a Scientific Paper - Purdue Tutorial

Reading Process in a Nutshell

  1. Read the abstract - is it relevant to your topic?
  2. Make note of the findings.
  3. Think about why the researchers did the study. Does the research question match up with the conclusions?
  4. Are the data collected appropriate to answer the research question? Are the conclusions supported by the data?
  5. Were the methods suitable to gather the results?

Questions to Ask as you Read

  • What questions do I hope this article will answer?
  • What do the authors conclude?
  • Why did the authors do this study?
  • What data/results emerged from the study?
  • How did the authors do this study?
  • What is the significance of these findings?
  • How does this article relate to other articles I've read?
  • Did this article answer my questions?
  • Are there other articles cited that I should read?

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