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This activity will help you read empirical research articles and practice how to evaluate and critique them.
Empirical research articles are published in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. Scholarly sources tend to be more credible than popular sources because of the authors’ expertise and the rigorous peer-review process. However, even in scholarly journals and empirical research articles, there can be errors—some small and some far more egregious. Bias, in particular, is something to be on the lookout for—scholars are human after all. They may not always be aware of their own biases, unintentionally affecting their interpretations or conclusions. Some examples of bias in empirical articles include:
Conflict of interest: If a study on a certain drug proved positive benefits, and then you find out that that pharmaceutical company funded the study, that’s a strong bias problem.
Classism: If the writer refers to homeless people as “bums,” that’s a bias problem.
Ageism: If the writer refers to the study sample as “senior citizens” rather than “476 people aged 65–82,” that could indicate a bias.
Anthropomorphism: If the author refers to chimpanzees as “noble,” it’s likely a bias problem.
Unintentional bias is one thing, but there have also been incidents of plagiarism and the fabrication or falsification of data. For example, an article published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience in 2014 called “Electrophysiological Evidence for Failures of Item Individuation in Crowded Visual Displays” was retracted on the basis that author, David E. Anderson, had falsified or fabricated data. Take a look at the blog Retraction Watch
(Links to an external site.)
, which tracks the retraction of scientific papers for some additional examples.
Instructions
Watch the video How to Read an Empirical Research Article
(Links to an external site.)
(12:15). As you watch the video tutorial, record in a Microsoft Word document what you should be looking at/for in each section of an article.
NOTE: You do not need to write in complete sentences for this activity; list what you hear in the video.
Introduction
Literature Review
Methods
Results
Conclusions and Recommendations
Citation: morgankenneth12. (2010, December 26). How to read an empirical research article [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/legYfGC46y4

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