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PSY 2030: Biological Psychology (Ficco)

Anatomy of a citation

Part of a Research Article

A primary research article that reports on original research has several components.  Understanding what  type of information can be found in each section is important to using the article effectively.  A research article typically has the following:

Titles indicate what the study is about.  It also lists the the author(s) of the article and their credentials so you can determine whether the are credible.  

Abstracts provide a brief summary of the article. 

Introduction/ Literature Reviews introduce the topic, provide a review and synthesis of previous research conducted in relation to the topic, and state the the hypothesis - a statement of what the researchers expect to find from their study.  Sometimes the Introduction and Literature Review are two separate sections. 

Methods describe how the study was conducted.  It includes information about sample sizes, control variables, instruments and procedures use to collect the data to be analyzed. Well designed and documented methods are important because it allows other researchers to replicate the study in future research.  Describing the methods also enable readers to determine if the study design was valid or if it should have been designed differently. 

Results report the findings of the study and whether the hypothesis were found to be true.  It is an analytical section that provides statistical documentation to demonstrate whether the results are valid and reliable.  Researchers should report results that are both statistically significant and insignificant. 

Discussions describe and interpret the results.  This section explains how results contribute to the existing body of scientific knowledge, lists limitations of the study and suggests areas for new research.

Conclusions recap the results and discussion section.  

References/Bibliography list the sources the authors consulted when writing the article.  Most of the sources listed will be referenced in the Introduction/Literature Review section.  This section is very useful for finding additional articles related to your topic and is a part of the research article trifecta. 

--Source:  Subramanyam, R. V. (2013). The art of reading a journal article: Methodically and effectively. Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology. 17(1): 65-70. doi: 10.4103/0973-029X.110733  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3687192/

Types of Information Sources