How to Break Down a Research Article

Sorry for the delay, I decided to double and triple check my work for social work and researcher jargon. This guide is meant to be for beginners and non-social science persons.

At first you may want to start out with a work sheet, a few pieces of scratch paper, or two copies of the article. 

My method involves two steps:

1. Skimming the article for key information

2. A deep read of the article once the first step is processed

Part 1- Skimming Key information:

1. Title

2. Arthur(s)

3. Publication

4. Publication date

5. DOI

6. Page numbers/ volume numbers

Gathering this information first gives you a jump start on a few important things:

1. Is this source reliable/ respected?

2. The information needed for an appropriate APA citation

3. The information needed to recover the paper if you lose the copy you made/ source you found the article from

Part 2- Collecting the overarching details:

1. What question is this article trying to answer?

2. Why is this question important to the field?

3. What method is the paper using

For this portion of your work you may want to avoid reading the abstract, it could cause a bias when reading the full article and it may not give you a full depiction of the important information. Once you get used to this method of work, the abstract can be used to quickly decide if a paper will fit in with the question you are trying to answer. 

*Other information to consider at this stage*

When you get deeper into research methods you will not only look at what the papers say, but how reliable the source is. 

Key information for this includes-

1. Where was the paper published?

2. Who wrote the paper?

3. Who funded the paper?

4. What biases are acknowledged in the paper?

5. What biases may exist but are NOT acknowledged? (AKA- what can we infer based on what we know of these other factors)

Next up I will use this format to break down an article as an example.

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