Research Summaries: The purpose of this assignment is to introduce you to peer-reviewed academic literature.
Use Google Scholar to find a peer-reviewed journal article related to the topic we will be discussing over the next few weeks: Higher education.
In bullet point format, summarize the main points of the article in your own words to the best of your ability. If you desire, feel free to include your thoughts on the article in the final bullet points.
Format (an example is attached):
On the top line of the first page, insert the citation of your chosen paper in APA reference style format.
Bullet points shall be double-spaced from each other, but each bullet point shall be single-spaced. (Again, see attached example.)
12 pt., Times New Roman font.
This is a low-stakes assignment, but you are required to format your summary as instructed.
If you must do a research project/paper for another course, then note you are welcome to use this assignment to augment that effort.
It is highly unlikely you will understand the entirety of 99% of peer-reviewed journal articles (that are worth reading, at least).
Try using varieties of search terms. Google Scholar is sensitive to even the slightest variations in search terms. For example: Let’s say you want to find a paper on the effect of marijuana usage on college students’ academic performance. Searching “marijuana college students” returns 95,500 results and the top hit is “The residual cognitive effects of heavy marijuana use in college students”. Searching “marijuana university students” returns 112,000 results and the top hit is “Alcohol and drug use in UK university students”.
Find an article title that seems interesting? I suggest you follow these steps:No more than two pages. Upload your summary on Blackboard.
Okay, now read the abstract. If it fails to interest you, or seems too “mathy” or otherwise unintelligible, then keep searching. There are tens of thousands of articles on any topic you can fathom that you should find fascinating, somewhat intelligible, and relevant to your interests. You are significantly more likely to enjoy this assignment and learn exponentially more if you choose your articles with care.
Note the number of citations–Google Scholar results report “Cited by ___” and automatically presents search results with the most highly cited papers up top. More citations mean the journal is highly respected, the article’s findings are very influential, and professors are more likely to recognize the journal/article/author(s)—undergraduates are forgiven for citing lame articles, but usually highly rewarded when professors realize you’re grappling with the highest caliber of respected research.
Note the date of publication. Whether the date of publication matters depends on context. An article presenting statistics on marijuana use amongst college students conducted in 1985 is probably not relevant, but an article on the “influence of spirituality on substance abuse by college students” from 2001 is still very much relevant. Use common sense.
If using Google Scholar, click “Cited by” and “Related articles” and quickly scan the top results. Very often you’ll find better articles published more recently. Note that newer articles usually have fewer citations, which makes sense. If a “Cited by” or more “Recent article” has more citations, that’s powerful signal it’s a much better and more influential paper. Check it out.However, the most important criteria I suggest for picking papers: Is it interesting—does it immediately appeal to your interests? Can you understand most of the abstract? Do the main findings sound important, and perhaps contrary to your current beliefs?
You’ve chosen a paper. Now scan the article and make sure it’s not 90% equations that you’d need a PhD to comprehend and it isn’t ridiculously long. (Top journals usually limit papers to 40 pages—don’t freak out, that’s an upper bound and most papers have lots of graphs, tables, endnotes, etc.)
Now, read the introduction, then skip to the conclusion. A quality paper gives you all important points in these two sections.
Now, read the rest of the article to the best of your ability. On the first pass just read without stopping even if you don’t understand most of it. Scholars often rely on specialized methods only very few specialists can comprehend. Don’t sweat it, just plow through. Exposure to this portion of the paper is one of my main objectives for this assignment, which I will explain several times during class. Now, do something else to take your mind of the paper for a while. After at least a few hours, take another shot at reading the guts of the paper. You’ll be surprised to discover how much you can learn from high-level research it you have faith in yourself and use a disciplined approach.
Download the paper.
Now, open a Word document. Make sure it’s set to Times New Roman, 12-point font If you use any other font or style I will set you on fire.
Click the “References” tab, select “APA”, click “Manage Sources”, then “New”, and then “Journal Article”. Fill out the fields using information from the article.
At the top of the first page, insert your citation by clicking “Bibliography” and “Insert Bibliography”.
In bullet point format and using your own words, summarize the article using the same order as the article. Underline one or two main bullet points that you think are the most interesting and/or important, please—this is for my benefit.
The last bullet point is an opportunity for you to tell me your opinion of the article, its value (if any), and what you learned from the article and the assignment. Please be honest. I often use honest feedback to recalibrate assignments, and even the harshest criticism is welcome if it’s clearly articulated and supported.