When students in the social and behavioral sciences take advanced courses in their major field of study, they are often required to read and evaluate original research reports published as articles in academic journals. This book is designed as a guide for students who are first learning how to engage in this process.
First, it is assumed that the students using this book have limited knowledge of research methods, even though they may have taken a course in introductory research methods (or may be using this book while taking such a course). Because of this assumption, technical terms and jargon such as true experiment are defined when they are first used in this book.
Second, it is assumed that students have only a limited grasp of elementary statistics. Thus, the chapters on evaluating statistical reporting in research reports are confined to criteria that such students can easily comprehend.
Finally, and perhaps most important, it is assumed that students with limited backgrounds in research methods and statistics can produce adequate evaluations of research reports—evaluations that get to the heart of important issues and allow students to draw sound conclusions from published research.
This Book Is Not Written for…
This book is not written for journal editors or members of their editorial review boards. Such professionals usually have had firsthand experience in conducting research and have taken advanced courses in research methods and statistics. Published evaluation criteria for use by these professionals are often terse, full of jargon, and composed of many elements that cannot be fully comprehended without advanced training and experience. This book is aimed at a completely different audience: students who are just beginning to learn how to evaluate original reports of research published in journals.
Applying the Evaluation Questions in This Book
Chapters 2 through 13 are organized around evaluation questions that may be answered with a simple “yes” or “no,” where a “yes” indicates that students judge a characteristic to be satisfactory. However, for evaluation questions that deal with complex issues, students may also want to rate each one using a scale from 1 to 5, where 5 is the highest rating. In addition, N/A (not applicable) may be used when students believe a characteristic does not apply, and I/I (insufficient information) may be used if the research report does not contain sufficient information for an informed judgment to be made.
Introduction to the Sixth Edition
1. Background for Evaluating Research Reports
2. Evaluating Titles
3. Evaluating Abstracts
4. Evaluating Introductions and Literature Reviews
5. A Closer Look at Evaluating Literature Reviews
6. Evaluating Samples When Researchers Generalize
7. Evaluating Samples When Researchers Do Not Generalize
8. Evaluating Measures
9. Evaluating Experimental Procedures
10. Evaluating Analysis and Results Sections: Quantitative Research
11. Evaluating Analysis and Results Sections: Qualitative Research
12. Evaluating Discussion Sections
13. Putting It All Together
Appendix A: Quantitative and Qualitative Research: An Overview
Appendix B: Examining the Validity Structure of Qualitative Research
Appendix C: The Limitations of Significance Testing
Appendix D: Checklist of Evaluation Questions
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