Anatomy of a Research Article Paper

Anatomy of a Research Article Paper
Anatomy of a Research Article                                 Paper

Anatomy of a Research Article Paper Below is a general guideline you can use when dissecting a research article from an academic journal.  Article format and style may vary, but you should be able to locate all the elements below.

  1. Abstract – This is an abbreviated and general overview of what you will find in the article including a) statement justifying the reason for the study, b) methodology used, c) statement of hypothesis or expected findings, and d) results.
  2. Introduction – This normally ranges from a few paragraphs to a full page, setting up what the article will cover based on a brief overview of the issues and possibly a brief overview of the methods.
  3. Review of literature/Background section – In order to provide background information on what we already know about a topic and justify the need for additional research, the researcher begins by reviewing previous research or literature. Necessary terminology and definitions, relationships among variables, and general findings in previous research are laid out here. This provides a foundation on which to build the current research.  Part of reviewing the literature of previous research is to also to indicate where the gaps or inconsistencies are so that others (e.g., you) may provide answers or corrections with their follow up research. Note that this section of the article may not be called “Review of Literature,” and may in fact be a number of sections, each with its own heading.

Anatomy of a Research Article Paper

This section brings together a body of research that is related to, but not necessarily on the exact same topic that you are examining. Important components of previous research that are often addressed here are:

  1. a) Timing – How old is previous research? Is it dated? Does it need to be studied again in light of contemporary issues or conditions?
  2. b) Variables – What variables have been considered in relation to one another on a topic of research? Should other variables be considered?
  3. c) Theoretical perspective – What theoretical perspectives have been used in the past to interpret social phenomena? Would another perspective provide a different or more useful interpretation? How would a “macro” or “micro” perspective interpret the issue differently?
  4. d) Methodology – How have previous studies collected and analyzed data? Are these procedures methodologically sound? Have important strategies for data collection or analysis and interpretation been overlooked?  Have different sets of data yielded different results?
  5. e) Emergent research question(s) – Summary statement(s) of testable propositions emerging from the authors’ literature review.
  6. Theory – Sometimes there is a section explicitly labeled “theory” or something similar. Sometimes this is included in the review of the literature. Either way, you should be able to glean some idea of what kind of perspective previous research has used to interpret some phenomenon and how the current article follows or challenges such perspective.
  7. Methods – An explanation of how data is gathered and analyzed. Not a very “sexy” section of the research article, but necessary to explain to readers where the answers or interpretations are coming from. This section should explain to the reader whether the study is based quantitative or qualitative research methods, or both.  Sometimes researchers will gather their own data through surveys or interviews, sometimes they’ll use an existing data set (such as General Social Survey).  The source of the “raw data” and methods used to analyze and interpret it should be made explicit here.  This may be an important component in determining how good or sound a piece of research really is.

Quantitative Methods – These methods tend to use statistical analyses to examine trends and/or analyze numbers.

Qualitative Methods – These methods tend to focus on interviews with people, observations, or some combination of both. A long term, in-depth qualitative project, is often called an “ethnography.”

  1. Results/Findings – Another sometimes dry portion of the research article is where the results from the data analyses are interpreted. Although this may be done largely through a table, chart, or graph containing statistics, it must also be interpreted in plain English. So a researcher discovers a statistically significant positive relationship between education and income at the .05 level?  What does it mean?  The research should spell out for you (and you should do the same in with your results) that an increase in education is related to an increase in income level.
  2. Conclusions/Discussion – Although the last part of the research article, perhaps the most crucial as this is where we find out if the current research provides any important information. This is where the researcher interprets more than the statistics. This is the discussion of the overall meaning of the research.  What do we learn from this?  How does it add to or challenge existing research?  Are there suggestions for future studies to increase knowledge on this or related topics?  This is where the researcher’s voice should most clearly be heard as they tell you what they found and why it is important.
  3. Bibliography/Works Cited – An important and often overlooked section of the research paper. Think of this as a legend to a map that directs readers to the research you have reviewed or incorporated in your work. Should you happen to review an important point made by another researcher, you need to provide explicit directions on how to find that same article, book, or another source to the reader.  Styles may differ, but all works cited sections will contain: author(s) name, date of publication, title, source (journal, book, etc.), precise publication location (publisher and geographic location in the case of a book, journal volume, number, and page numbers for journal articles).

Anatomy of a Research Article*

Below is a general guideline you can use when dissecting a research article from an academic journal.  Article format and style may vary, but you should be able to locate all the elements below.

Research Article Paper Assignment

Overview: The goal of this assignment is to help familiarize you with sociological research in terms of reading academic journal articles and dissecting each part of an academic article. Be sure you have read “The Anatomy of a Research Article” on eCourseware before you begin this assignment. Sociological research is published in academic journals specific to the discipline of sociology, but the process is similar for other academic areas of study. Many of these journals are free for us to access as members of the University of Memphis.


Find a Research Article to Review

On eCourseware, there are a number of articles for you to choose from based on your area of interest. These articles vary in topic, methodology, theories, data, and findings. Choose just one of these articles to review. To find these, click on Content, then Articles for Review Assignment.

Read the Article

Using the “Anatomy of a Research Article” as a guide, read the article you chose from beginning to end. There may be parts that you do not fully understand, particularly in the methods and data section, especially if the article uses quantitative methods, and/or if you have not taken a statistics or research methods class yet. That is ok. Hopefully, the findings of the article are written in language that can be interpreted by anyone, even if you do not fully understand what logistic regression (or other complex statistical methods) means! I find that printing articles and making notes in the margins helps me to digest all of the information presented. Use a highlighter or pencil and underline things you found interesting, confusing, or otherwise important.

Then, using the guidelines below, take apart each piece of the article, from beginning to end. Requirements & Formatting

You should not copy and paste any part of the article to complete this assignment, nor should you use any direct quotes. The goal is to write up your review in your own words.

Write your responses to each question (1-15) in the space provided. You can add more space if needed.

Be sure to use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Use complete sentences. Proofread your assignment before submitting it.

Save your assignment as a .doc, .docx, or .pdf and upload it to the Dropbox on eCourseware. Be sure you upload the correct file. Save it as something unique to this course/assignment.

This assignment should be your own, original work.

*This assignment was created in collaboration with Erin Anderson, Teaching with a Sociological Lens, and Stephanie Bradley, Florida State University.

Sociological Research Article Review Assignment

  1. Full Title:
  2. Authors and Affiliated Institutions:
  3. Journal Name, Volume, and Edition (if applicable):
  4. Year Published:
  5. What is/are the authors’ research question(s)?
  6. Timing – How old is previous research cited in the background/literature review section? Is it dated? Do the authors make the claim that this topic needs to be studied again in light of contemporary issues or conditions?
  7. Variables – According to the background/literature review, what variables have been considered in relation to one another on a topic of research? Should other variables be considered?
  8. Methodology – How have previous studies collected and analyzed data? Are these procedures methodologically sound? Have important strategies for data collection or analysis and interpretation been overlooked? Have different sets of data yielded different results?
  9. What theoretical framework(s) does the article use? That is, do the authors deductively draw on theory in structuring their research and, if so, what is the theory (or theories) from which they draw? What is/are the justifications given for using this/these theory/theories?
  10. Data – What type of data do the authors use? Is this an existing data set (i.e. General Social Survey; Census data) or something they collected themselves (i.e. interviews)? Be as specific as possible.
  11. Methods/Analytic Strategy – What type of methodology do the authors employ? Describe these methods.
  12. What are the key variables in this study? Describe them. (In qualitative studies, the variables may be called “themes” or “narratives.”)
  13. What are the main results and findings? Provide examples and detail from the study.
  14. From the conclusion/discussion, what can we learn from these findings? How does it add to or challenge existing research? What are the limitations for this particular study?
  15. What suggestions for future research do the authors suggest?

School Gender Culture and Student Subjective Well-Being John R. Reynolds1 & Melissa J. Bamford2

Published online: 25 November 2015

# Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Abstract This study explores the impact of school gender culture in the United States on boys’ and girls’ attachment to school and symptoms of depression. We consider multiple dimensions of school gender culture and hypothesize that student subjective well-being is lower in schools with a lower percentage of females, stronger orientations toward marriage, more prevalent contact sports, and a student body that engages more often in fighting and drinking. xThe hypotheses are derived from theories of gendered organizations, heteronormativity, and hypermasculinity. Analyses of a national sample of middle and high school students in the U.S. (5,847 girls, 5,347 boys) from the 1994–95 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent

Health show considerable variation in school gender cultures, and regression analyses yield some support for the hypotheses.

A higher proportion of female students is associated with fewer depressive symptoms among girls as predicted, but weaker school attachment for boys. The results more consistently supported the hypotheses that student well-being suffers in schools where more classmates get into fights or get drunk. Finally, we find no evidence that student subjective well-being is affected by contexts in which marital plans are more prevalent or greater proportions of students play collision contact sports. We find some evidence that school gender composition and school contexts of fighting and drinking are consequential for student subjective well-being. We reject the hypothesis that school levels of marriage orientations and contact sports participation undermine student well-being. Overall, more work is needed in the conceptualization and measurement of school gender cultures.

Keywords of Gender culture. School attachment. Depressive symptoms.

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