Practice Analyzing and Interpreting a Journal

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  • 0:02 Journal Article Format
  • 2:29 Analyzing a Journal Article
  • 3:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kara Wilson

Kara Wilson is a 6th-12th grade English and Drama teacher. She has a B.A. in Literature and an M.Ed, both of which she earned from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Interpreting a journal article can seem daunting, but recognizing common format elements and asking specific questions will help you break it down into understandable pieces that can be analyzed.

Journal Article Format

Scholarly journal articles are written by professionals who are experts in their fields. After doing research and conducting experiments, results are often published in the form of journal articles. This is especially common in the sciences and social sciences.

There are eight common elements of a scholarly journal article and they are typically included in this order:

1. Abstract
2. Introduction
3. Methods
4. Results
5. Discussion
6. Summary and Conclusions
7. Acknowledgments
8. References

Some specific articles may use different section titles for these elements that tie in to the contents of each section, but the structure remains the same.

If you're doing research on a particular topic and need or want to use a scholarly journal article, you want to follow five steps to use your time effectively and really understand the article.

Step 1: Read the abstract. This is the summary of the article and it helps you decide if it's relevant to what you're researching. Read this first and ask yourself what the study focused on.

Step 2: Read the article's methods section. This section is close to the article's beginning and will explain what type of research the author did and what participants were supposed to do. Sometimes participants are used in a case study. Other times the research might be something like a survey. Whatever it is, how it was conducted will be explained in detail, as will any important information about the participants.

Step 3: Review the article's research questions. These are found in the results section or in the abstract. Understanding the questions being asked gives you a clear idea of the article's purpose and what type of research was conducted to help answer those questions.

Step 4: When carefully reading through the article, pay close attention to any charts and tables included and the narrative description that explains why those were the results. These elements help you understand how specific conclusions were made and can be found in the results, discussion, and conclusion sections.

Step 5: Don't skip over the references section or any footnotes. They can provide you with other resources to learn more. Scholarly journal articles aren't just about stating what was learned; they aim to continue the learning and research process for everyone.

Analyzing a Journal Article

When analyzing a journal article, you want to:

  • Analyze the effectiveness and validity of the article. What types of support does it include (facts, data, case studies, expert testimony, statistics)? Are its conclusions well supported by the evidence provided, or does it need more?
  • Analyze two related articles to compare and contrast their information. Do they draw similar conclusions and are they both well supported? Are their results similar or drastically different and why?

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