The purpose of this assignment is to engage in the sort of writing that is the basis for literature reviews,research proposals (both of which are common types of “term paper assignments”) and the introductions of researchreports. While this assignment is somewhat rudimentary, it does have the major elements of this type of writing: 1)the ability to read and critique a research article, 2) the ability to integrate the information from two articles (the premiseis that if you can do this for two articles in this assignment you will be able to do so for more articles in laterassignments), 3) the ability to propose a piece of “new” research that is related to the research you reviewed, and 4)the ability to present these using the APA style and format.
The assignment is based on the two articles you have been given, and has four parts, each of which can beaccomplished in a single well-written paragraph: 1) A critique of the “first article, 2) A critique of the “second article”,3) An “integration” of the information in the two articles and 4) a proposal of an original research project that is drawnfrom the critique and integration of the two articles.
Critiquing Each Article
This is very similar to what we did during the in-class research critique activity (the specific things to includeare listed on the Rubric). The challenge is to coordinate the information from each article and to compose itinto a well-structured summary paragraph, while striking a proper balance between completeness and brevity. Carefulreading of the introductions of the articles you have been given is a good way to see examples of this type of writing.
Integrating the Two Articles
The “Integrating” of the two articles is often the hardest part of this assignment. The idea is to help the readerunderstand why you have told them about each of the articles by tying the two articles together. The three majorcomponents of this kind of integration are: 1) telling the similarities between the articles (focusing more on theprocedures used and results obtained than on the purposes of the two studies); 2) telling the differences between thearticles (especially when procedural differences may have produced the differences in the results); and 3) telling whatwe learn when we consider the information from these two studies taken together that we didn’t know from readingeither one of them in isolation.
Proposing a New Research Project
The description of the proposed research project will include, a) the purpose of the proposed research, b) thespecific research question or research hypothesis, c) the sample that will be used (description and number), d)research materials (stimuli, apparatus, psychological tests, etc.) and procedures (what the participants will do that willproduce the data) that will be used.
While there is no “formula” for combining the information from two studies into a novel research idea, there area few basic approaches that can lead to new research ideas, such as…
• Extending a research finding to another population. Example — you critique two articles that demonstrate thereis a relationship between locus of control (a measure of the extent to which a person believes that “internal” versus”external” forces control their lives) and consistency of contraceptive use in college-aged students, and propose astudy of whether these two constructs are related in high school students. (An obvious variation on this is tocritique two articles that deal with two populations and propose research involving a third.) This approach won’tget you many points on this assignment — see the Grading Sheet.
• Extending a research finding to another situation. Example — you critique two articles that demonstrate the utilityof a treatment in one situation (say, inpatient therapy) and propose a study of whether this same technique canprofitably be applied in a different situation (say, outpatient therapy).
• Explicit comparison of two procedures/techniques/treatments that have each been compared to some control,but not to each other. Example — “first article” demonstrates that cognitive-behavioral technique “A” for socialanxiety works better than a control treatment, the “second article” demonstrates that cognitive –behavioraltechnique “B” also works better than a control, and you propose a direct comparison of techniques “A” and “B”.
• Resolving apparent contradictions is another good basis for proposed research. Sometimes two articles thatseem to be contradicting each other aren’t really comparable, because of differences in the population, materials,or procedures that were used. For example: The “first article finds a relationship between locus of control (using Rotter’s I-E scale) and consistency of contraceptive use (measured as a self-report of the % sexual encounterswhen contraceptive was used) in college students. However, a “second article” reports finding no relationshipbetween locus of control (using Hareleson’s controlling forces index) and consistency of contraceptive use(measured as whether or not they used a contraceptive each time they have had sex) in high school students.You would note that there are three differences between these studies (the population used, the measure of locusof control, the measure of contraceptive consistency) and propose a study that uses all four measures in bothpopulations. This approach isn’t always available — there has to be a contradiction, and it has to have goneunnoticed (except by you).
• Perhaps the most common basis for proposing new research is to combine two findings to predict a third. For example: The “first article” reports a relationshipbetween how well people can interpret body language (e.g., that folks tend to lean towards a speaker who issaying something in which they are interested but to lean away from one who is not) and how well they enjoyconversations with strangers. The “second article” reports that many socially anxious people say they don’t likestarting conversations with people they don’t know well, because they don’t enjoy the conversations. Combiningthese two findings, you propose research to test the hypothesis that teaching socially anxious people how to moreaccurately interpret body language will lead them to better enjoy conversations with people they don’t know.
Remember — this is the sort of writing (summarizing, integrating & proposing) that you arelikely to be doing not only during the rest of this semester, but in most of your otherPsychology classes. Now’s the time to learn how to do it well!!
How Do I Learn to Write This Way???
A good way to learn how to organize research findings to produce ideas for new research is to read theintroductions of other’s research reports carefully. These usually “tell a story” about the history of research in an area,including how previous researchers have combined various findings to create new ideas. The introduction will alsogive you an example of how the author combined the ideas of others to produce the idea for the article that you arereading.
There’s Lots of Help with this Assignment!!
Besides this set of instructions, there are four handouts that will help you with the assignment: 1) There is agrading sheet that tells how the points for this assignment will be awarded. Read it carefully and be sure to includeall parts that are worth points! 2) All slides and handouts on APA format. 3) Examples of papers in your textbook and presented in class. 4) Finally, there is a handout that shows examples of a “poorer” and a “better” write-upof this type.
So, you should review the handouts on general APA style and citations, compare the “Poorer” and “muchimproved” versions of the write-up of today’s Design Critique and follow the Grading Sheet to be sure you have all theright stuff in the right place.