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Assignment: Research Paper Analysis

Psyc&100 General Psychology

Carl Oekerman
Purpose: The object of this exercise is to give you practice in critically evaluating a
scientific research paper. As this skill improves, you will be able to:
5. Determine if a given paper is relevant to your needs (does it provide the kind of
information you are looking for?)
6. Distinguish the paper’s major components
7. Understand (at least in a general sense) the paper’s findings
These are critical skills in conducting your own academic research. These steps must
precede your own presentation of your research on a topic, whether you are presenting
your findings orally or in written form.
Your assignment:
8. Using the library or internet (a database such as ProQuest is highly
recommended), locate one (1) research paper about a topic of interest to you.
Plan on looking at several articles before you locate one that suits the purpose of
this assignment. (Popular articles from newspapers/magazines, or a book review
about a new title on your topic are not appropriate for this assignment.)
Research papers are published in peer-reviewed, scholarly journals.
9. Print out a hard copy of the article; back to back is fine (be kind to yourself and
your instructor and avoid the 10 page + papers).
10. Use How to Read a Scientific Research Paper by Ann McNeal to work your way
through your paper. I encourage you to mark up your hard copy. Hint: if you do
a good job marking up your paper, the rest of your steps will be easier (and so will
my assessment of your work).
11. Finally, type up your responses to McNeal’s questions below. You may find it
useful to download a copy of this assignment off of our class’s Sharepoint site:
Save it to your computer. Then you can simply fill in your findings after each question.
Try to provide a brief answer to each question, though you may discover not all of these
questions apply to all research papers. If the question doesn’t seem to apply to your
paper, please indicate this in your summary.
12. Print out your summary of the article, and attach your original hard copy of
your article (I want to see it!). Turn it into me by the due date.
This assignment is worth 50 points. You will earn 25 points if it is completed and turned
in by the due date; the remaining 25 points will be awarded by a.) How effectively you
were able to respond to McNeal’s analysis questions, and b.) How well organized
(attention to detail and spelling) your final product is. Full sentences are encouraged!
Remember, what you write needs to make sense to me!

Assignment: Research Paper Analysis

Psyc&100 General Psychology
Your Name:
Please provide your paper’s citation in APA format (as it would appear on your
own research paper’s Reference page)

Cherkin, D.C., Sherman, K.J., Deyo, R.A., & Shekelle, P.G. (2003). A review of the evidence for the effectiveness,

safety, and cost of acupuncture, massage therapy, and spinal manipulation for back pain. Annals of Internal

Medicine, 138(11), 898-906. Retrieved March 31, 2010, from ProQuestDirect. (Document ID: 351188371).

Your Paper:

What is the overall purpose of the research?
How does the research fit into the context of its field? Is it, for example,
attempting to settle a controversy? Show the validity of a new technique?
Open up a new field of inquiry? Provide additional data to support
previous research?
Do you agree with the author's rationale for studying the question in this
Were the measurements appropriate for the questions the researcher was
Often, researchers need to use "indicators" because they cannot measure
something directly--for example, using babies' birth weight to indicate
nutritional status. Were the measures in this research clearly related to the
variables in which the researchers (or you) were interested?
If human subjects were studied, do they fairly represent the populations
under study?
What is the one major finding?
Were enough of the data presented so that you feel you can judge for
yourself how the experiment turned out?
Did you see patterns or trends in the data that the author did not mention?
Were there problems that were not addressed?
Do you agree with the conclusions drawn from the data?
Are these conclusions over-generalized or appropriately careful?
Are there other factors that could have influenced, or accounted for, the
What further experiments would you think of, to continue the research or
to answer remaining questions?