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Introductory Guide to
Reading Research Articles
- A Self-Paced Learning Module

Introduction
Peer Reviewed Journals
Types of Published Articles
Authors
Abstract
Introduction
Literature Review
Rationale & Purpose
Methods
Results
Discussion
References

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You are here: Introduction > Peer Reviewed Journals > Types of Articles > Authors > Abstract >
Introduction > Literature Review > Rationale > Methods

Methods

Research articles must include a section that provides a detailed explanation about how the study was conducted. Ideally, the reader could replicate the study based on this description and get the same results.  Although journals may use different names, the subsections required for the “methods” section typically include: study subjects, measurements, and procedures. Each of these subsections will be reviewed below.


Study Subjects

The study subjects section should provide important information about the individuals who participated in the study.

Ask yourself

  • Does the author describe the characteristics of the study subjects (such as age, gender, ethnicity, or type of drug problem)?
  • Does the author describe other characteristics that are relevant to the study, such as health status, primary language, socioeconomic status, and educational level?
  • Does the author describe the total number of study subjects?
  • Does the author describe the number of subjects assigned to each condition?
  • Does the author explain if the subjects in different groups are equivalent?
  • Does the author describe the number of subjects who dropped out and why?
  • Is the number of subjects in each condition sufficiently large to make comparisons?
  • Does the author describe the criteria for including or excluding subjects in the study?

 

Measurements

The primary goal of the measurements section is to provide information about what types of data were being gathered and the tools or instruments used to gather the data.

Ask yourself

  • Do the authors describe the primary measures that they sought to elicit from the study subjects?
  • Do the authors describe the specific assessment tools that were used to gather information? Were they preexisting or developed for this study?
  • Do the authors provide information about the reliability and validity of these assessment tools?
  • Do the authors describe the points at which measurements were taken? (This may include baseline, immediate post-intervention, and various followups, such as 6-month and 12-month post-intervention followups.)
  • Do the authors describe how the measurements were taken (such as self-administered surveys or clinician-administered surveys or interviews)?

 

Procedures

This section should provide a detailed description about the steps taken to conduct the research. This may include a review of instructions to study subjects, assignment of subjects to conditions, research study design, and intervention procedures and processes.

Ask yourself

  • Do the authors describe how subjects were assigned to a condition?
  • Do the authors provide a detailed description of the intervention?
  • Do the authors describe the “nonintervention” condition experience?
  • Do the authors mention more than one intervention condition (such as an “enhanced” and a “regular” intervention)?
  • Do the authors provide a thorough description of the study design?
  • Do the authors provide a rationale for this design?
  • Do the authors review why a stronger design was not chosen if relevant?
  • What types of comparisons are specified in the design? Are these comparisons the most appropriate ones?
  • Do the authors mention if the groups were different or were treated differently?

 

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