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Psychology 242
Research in Psychology
Dr. David J. McKirnan


Reading journal articles

Two ways to search for Psychology articles.

Get American Psychological Association (APA) and American Psychological Society (APS) journals in PschInfo:

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  1. At the UIC home page click "Library" (http://library.uic.edu/).
  2. Click on "Databases A - Z".
  3. On the alphabet list that comes up click "PQ".
  4. Scroll down to "PschInfo.", click.
  5. Log in with your netID and password.

For another search use Web of Knowledge. In step 3 above go to "W“, then click "Web of Knowledge". This will include PschInfo, plus a lot of Public Health and Medical journals. It is also more straightforward to search.

Search using key words by topic or author; use advanced search options to combine different key words, limit the years searched, etc.  You can download most articles in Pdf format. During discussion group your TA will cover strategies for searching for articles.

For an e-learming module on searching for journal articles, click here.

How to read a journal article.

In a good article most of the elements of the "research flow" will be briefly noted in the abstract; use the abstract as your overall "map" of the article.

Look at the first paragraph; it should describe the phenomenon or overall question being asked, and why it is important.

The body of the introduction provides a review of previous studies, and introduces whatever theory is being tested.  This text may be a little difficult to follow, or may assume more experience with the topic than you have.  Look for summary statements.

The main summary is usually the last paragraph of the introduction, just before “Methods”.  Typically this will concisely outline the main theoretical base, the hypotheses, and the overall study approach.

The first paragraph (or two) of the methods section typically outlines how the study was conducted, which are the independent / dependent variables, whether key variables were manipulated or measured, etc. 

The Procedures section should give you a step-by-step description of how the study was actually conducted.  This will include any experimental manipulations, constituting the operational definition of the Independent Variable(s). 

The Measures (or “Instruments”) section will provide a description of each basic instrument. 

The Results section typically proceeds hypothesis-by-hypothesis; look for summary statements at the end of each block of results.

The first few paragraphs of the Discussion will review the results, and begin tying them into the theory & hypotheses.  

The journal article below has instructions for how to read each section.  Roll your cursor over the marked sections.

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