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Sociology: Reading Experimental Research Articles

finding information about sociology

Research Reports and Articles

Most scholarly articles in Psychology and Sociology fall under two categories:

  • Literature or Research Review: critical analysis of existing research on a topic of interest
  • Research Reports or Articles: details of research projects and/or studies

For this assignment, you are writing the Research Review. The articles you choose should be Research Reports or Articles. Research Reports follow a specific pattern and are organized into 6 sections:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References

For an interactive tour of a scholarly article, see North Carolina State University's "Anatomy of a Scholarly Article".

1. Abstract

An abstract is included in most academic journal articles. The abstract is a summary of the article or study. Typically, they contain 100 words or less and are organized exactly like the experimental report: introduction, literature review, methods, results and discussion.

If you only see an abstract, you do not have access to the full text of the article. To find the full text of an article you are looking for, ask a librarian. 

2. Introduction

The Introduction section follow a general to specific pattern: first introducing the problem in a general description, then a short overview of the study, including the hypothesis. Introductions will typically include:

  • Opening statements
  • Literature Review
  • Study overview

3. Methods

The Methods section will be organized in three parts:

  1. Participants: who was enrolled, demographics of participants, etc.
  2. Apparatus and materials: equipment and materials used for data collection, such as computers, eye-tracking devices, surveys, software, etc.
  3. Procedure: step-by-step details of the experiment, including the design, variables, participant instructions, etc.

4. Results

The Results section is where the author(s) present the results of their research. You may see the Results and Discussion sections combined in some articles. Results can include:

  • Organization of results
  • Preliminary discussion
  • Data analysis
  • Presentation of results

5. Discussion

In the Discussion section, the author(s) will talk about what the results mean to the topic or subject. This section moves from specific to general. Here, you may find:

  • Interpretation of findings
  • Evaluation of hypotheses or research questions
  • Discussion of unexpected results
  • Connection to previous literature

6. References

The References list includes any sources cited or referred to in the paper. Typically, Psychology and Sociology studies will be in APA format. Remember that any articles you select for this assignment must have a minimum of 20 references. If you select the correct type of articles, this will be an easy task. Most academic articles will have more than 20 references.


This information was summarized and paraphrased from Purdue OWL's Writing the Experimental Report.