12 Steps to Understanding a Quantitative Research Article

While first reading the article, keep the following 12 steps in mind. Then, re-read the article and write one to two sentences for each step. On completion, you should have a strong sense about what the research involves and how you can apply it to other research in the field. You can use a concept map to visualize these associations.

  1. CITATION. Record a complete reference citation in APA Style.
  2. PURPOSE AND GENERAL RATIONALE. In broad terms, describe the purpose of the study, and how the author(s) made a case for its general importance.
  3. FIT AND SPECIFIC RATIONALE. Explain how the topic of the study fits into the existing research literature, and how that provenance is used to make a specific case for the investigation.
  4. PARTICIPANTS. Describe who was studied (give number, demographics, and characteristics) and how they were selected.
  5. CONTEXT. Describe important characteristics about the location where the study took place.
  6. STEPS IN SEQUENCE. In the order performed, describe the main procedural steps of the study. Describe or diagram in a flowchart, showing the order and any important relationships among the steps.
  7. DATA. Describe what constituted the data (e.g., test scores, questionnaire responses, kinematics), how it was collected, and what was the role of the investigator(s) in that process.
  8. ANALYSIS. Explain the form of data analysis used, and what specific questions it was designed to answer. Describe what statistical operations and computer programs were employed.
  9. RESULTS. Describe what the author(s) identified as the primary results (products or findings) produced by their data analysis.
  10. CONCLUSIONS. Explain what the author(s) asserted about how their results in Step 9 responded to the purpose(s) established in Step 2, and how the events and experiences of the entire study contributed to that conclusion.
  11. CAUTIONS. Explain whether the author(s) raised any cautions about the study itself or about interpreting the results. Add here any of your own reservations.
  12. DISCUSSION. Describe what interesting facts or ideas you learned from reading the report. Include here anything that was of value, including: results, research designs and methods, references, instruments, history, useful arguments, or personal inspiration.
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