OB/HRM Tips on Analyzing Journal Articles
As an alternative way of obtaining research participation credits (instead of participating in
research studies), you may review journal articles (1 article review = 1 full credit). All reviews
must be sent to the relevant instructor by the last day of classes at the very latest. It is the
students’ responsibility to find the definitions for any unfamiliar terms (e.g., dependent variable;
confounds) prior to completing the assignment. To find an article to review we recommend
going to the WLU library online (TRELLIS) and finding the Journal of Management, which can
be accessed either from a computer at home or on-campus as follows.
1. Connecting from home:
(a) Go to WLU library site (http://library.wlu.ca/).
(b) Click on Quick Links: Off-campus login.
(c) Follow directions to login.
(d) Find Articles.
(e) Journals by title (online or print).
(f) Full text electronic journals.
2. Connecting from on-campus at WLU:
(a) same as above except start at letter (d).
Once you find the journal, you can browse recent issues of this journal online to find a topic of
interest to you. If the article you select has more than one study, you only need to select one
study (from that article) to review.
The summary of the article should flow from these questions and should not be a simple
restatement of the abstract.
1. What is the phenomenon that is being studied?
2. What were the hypotheses?
3. What were the independent and dependent variables?
4. How was the hypothesis tested?
5. What were the results?
6. What criticisms can you make about the research? (e.g., threats to validity, sample
issues, operational definitions, confounds, demand characteristics?)
7. How could these problems be resolved?
Be sure to summarize the study in your own words. DO NOT directly quote.
Tips on How to Read Journal Articles
How you read is as important as what you read. Reading an important article is not very
helpful if you do not know how to identify the main points. Most researchers write articles from
the perspective that the reader has a working knowledge of the phenomenon that is being
investigated. Consequently, the main points will be lost if you do not have a basic understanding
of the phenomenon you are reading about. If this is the case, you should first read a review
article or the relevant chapters in a textbook concerning the phenomenon. Once you have a
working knowledge of the phenomenon, the articles you read will make more sense.
As you read articles you will begin to develop a point of view or a perspective as to how
you want to focus your paper. Use this point of view or perspective to help you decide which
articles to read and which articles to not read.
As you read an article it is important to take systematic notes. The best approach is to try
and summarize main points and ideas rather than copying parts of the article word-for-word. You
can do this through the use of note cards in which you have one note card for each article and
each article is summarized on the note cards. The advantage to this approach is you can organize
the note cards by topic, issue, author, or the outline. Alternatively, you may wish to make notes
directly on your copy of the article. This can be done by highlighting sections that make
important points or writing your comments on the article. Be careful not to simply engage in
massive photocopying. If you do this, you will eventually have to reread everything you
photocopied to determine why you thought it was important.
Evaluating The Article
When reading research articles it is important to remember that each section of the article
has a defined purpose. You should be very aware of the role of each section of a research article
by now. However, if you are not, the APA (American Psychological Association) manual
discusses the types of information in each section of a research article. You should review these
sections of the APA manual. When reading research articles it can be easy to get lost in the
details. Here are several questions you can ask yourself if you begin to get confused:
1. Why are you reading the article? What is it about the article that is of interest to you?
2. What is the theoretical basis for the research?
3. What past research suggests the need for the study presented?
4. What were the results of the study? Do the results make sense?
5. Do other theories potentially explain the results -- other than the one proposed by the
6. Were operational definitions used? Were they adequate? Were the definitions circular?
7. Did the researcher eliminate potential rival explanations in the design of the study?
8. Does the researcher answer the original question asked?