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Your proposal will be based upon a review of the research literature. You will need to review and describe a series of papers, and we will begin by having you answer questions about an empirical, peer-reviewed journal article on the topic you’ve chosen. Remember, empirical articles are those that report on the results of original research – they’ve done a study, have methods and results sections, and end with a discussion section. Students sometimes choose literature review articles or case studies, but those are not what we’re looking for here.
In your review you’ll show that you can identify the hypothesis and the independent and dependent variables and explain the results. In this initial summary (written in formal APA style) you’ll use the following structure:
1) first paragraph: general background—What do we know about the topic? What does this study add to what we know (what’s new here)? What is the hypothesis or research question?
2) second paragraph: describe their methodology—who are the participants and what did they do in the study? NOTE: if the article you selected does not have a Method section, then you’re summarizing the wrong kind of article.
3) third paragraph: what did the authors find? Describe this in general terms – there’s no need to report their means, F-ratios, and so forth, but be sure to address all the key findings.
4) fourth paragraph: What do these results mean? Do they support the hypothesis? If so, how? If not, why? What are the shortcomings of the present study? Do their findings suggest possibilities for future research?