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Occupational Therapy

occupational therapy

Research and peer review

From vocabulary to form, all writing is tailored to reach an intended audience for a particular purpose.  When choosing research sources, it is important to understand the relationship between research and a peer review journal article. 

How to Read a Scholarly Article

Structure of a Research Article

  • Author and author's professional affiliation is identified
  • Abstract: Summary of the paper that includes: 1) the overall purpose of the study and the research problem(s) ; 2) the basic design of the study; 3) major findings or found as a result of the analysis; and, 4) a brief summary of interpretations and conclusions.
  • Introduction: Contains the research question
  • Literature review: A discussion about what other scholars have written on the topic
  • Methodology: The method(s) of data gathering and what the authors did to answer the research question are explained
  • Results: What the authors observed
  • Discussion section: What the authors think the results mean
  • Conclusions: A synthesis of key points and is intended to help the reader understand why the research is important
  • Reference list with citations: Sources of information used in the article

Sample Research Article 

Is the article relevant? Tips for Skimming

Step 1: Read the Abstract
The abstract is a summary of the article. By reading this, you can get a sense of the content, the scope of the research, the author's methodology and the academic level of the article.

Step 2: Read the Conclusion
Authors usually repeat their main ideas and their final findings in the conclusion. This will give you an overview of the article and help determine if it is relevant to your research.

Step 3: Read the First Paragraph of the Introduction
This is where an author usually lays out his or her plan for the rest of the article. This can help you determine what the article contributes to the field.

Step 4: Examine figures and charts 
These will give a visual clue to the methods and results sections of the paper and help you to understand the data. 
How do the results relate to the hypothesis stated in the introduction? Do they correlate and support the hypothesis, they contradict they hypothesis, etc. Are the findings described in an unbiased way?

Step 5: Read the First Sentence of Every Paragraph
The first sentence (or topic sentence) will convey the main idea for that paragraph. See something interesting? Read the rest.

Step 6: The Rest of the Article
Once you have determined if an article is relevant to your research, read more carefully, paying attention to the author's argument and evidence. 

More Tips for Readings

Tip #1 Take notes in the margins or the article and/or in a separate document 

Tip #2 Use questions marks in your notes to identify terms and concepts you don't understand 

Tip #3 Rewrite headings into language you would use so you're certain you understand the content of the article  

Tip #4 Ask these questions as you read the article:

  • What specific topic is covered by this research?
  • Has this topic already been researched?
  • Do you concur with the researcher?
  • Is the content of the article on agreement with other research?