Reading Research Tips
From PhD Prep Track
Hints for Reading an Academic Paper
- Read the abstract, introduction and conclusion to determine the question being asked and why that question is important.
- Decide whether the question is interesting or important.
- Make note of the important aspects of the paper (research question, method, etc.) for reference while reading the rest of the paper.
- Read the literature review and examine the bibliography to determine the position of the paper.
- Read the sample selection, method, and results sections of the paper to determine its validity:
- What category of study is it?
- If it is an experiment, what steps did the researcher take to improve external validity?
- If it is a quasi- or non-experiment, what steps did the researcher take to improve internal validity?
- Did the researcher carefully design the study to capitalize on the natural strengths of the category of study?
- Do the variables really capture the constructs the researcher claims they capture? Is there a more appropriate variable?
- What limitations does the researcher point out?
- After assessing validity, consider the conclusions made by the researcher.
- Examine the results of the primary test. Are the results consistent with the researcher's explanation?
- Are the stated conclusions consistent with the results? Does the narrative discussion make unjustified claims about the usefulness of the study?
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