This is your first assignment. It will help you learn to use the library, to see the range of articles that are published in peer-reviewed journals, and to read and summarize important information from an APA-style article. It will also help you to see how your own paper should look when it is finished! The topic of this assignment DOES NOT need to be related to your research project.


Choosing an article

Choose a full-text empirical study from a peer-reviewed journal (e.g., do not use “popular” magazines like “Psychology Today”).
• Select an article of interest to you, possibly one with a topic that you will be doing your research project on (look at the list of possible topics in “Research Variables List and Research Project Proposal Form” in the Research Project folder if you would like to pick an article on an approved topic).
• Psychology as a field encompasses a wide range of topics you can select an article on: child development, mental illness, education, human sexual behavior, ESP, dreams, gender differences, gerontology, etc.

Before you start

• Skim the article to be sure you understand it.
• Be sure the article you select actually describes an experiment (necessary for purposes of this assignment) with sections entitled “Method,” “Results,” and “Discussion.”
• Avoid articles that describe more than one experiment (this will be more difficult for you to summarize).

Completing the assignment

Please answer the following questions. Write each question, then answer the question (i.e. write your paper in question-and-answer format). If you do not answer each question you will not get full points for your assignment. Your paper should be double-spaced, 12-pt Times New Roman font and at least four pages long.

1. Write the reference (author, etc.) for this article in APA style (use format from Appendix A in Cozby). Be very careful to use lower case letters in the title of the article; only capitalize the first letter of the title and the first letter of the subtitle if there is one (if there is a subtitle it comes after a colon : ). Use italics only for the journal title.

2. Write an “overview” or brief summary of the article. Indicate your assessment of what the study is about and the major findings of the study.

3. According to the introduction, what information was already known about the topic (look for references to previous research)? Did the author(s) describe the problem being studied? Did they present sufficient background literature to allow you to understand the problem better?

4. What variables (e.g. the dependent and independent variables) were studied? What were the hypotheses concerning these variables?

5. What were the operational definitions of the variables studied (e.g., how was each variable or procedure specifically defined so that it could be studied)?

6. Who were the participants in this study? Were there any special participant characteristics?

7. What were the procedures used to test the hypotheses? Were the procedures in the method section detailed enough so that you could complete the study on your own?

8. What were the major results of the study? Were the results consistent with the hypotheses?

9. Please describe exactly how the authors list their statistical findings (e.g. t=3.26, p< .01) for the results you described in Question 8.

10. How do the results relate to the other studies cited in the introduction?

11. What was the researchers’ explanation for the pattern of results they found? Can you think of alternative interpretations?

12. Did the author give suggestions for future research or applications? Can you provide other suggestions?

13. What would you do if you wished to find out more about this research topic?


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