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Human Services: Children, Families, and Groups APA Lit Review

Learn to conduct research, format writing, and cite sources for Human Services.

Getting Ready to Read Peer Reviewed Sources

How the heck do I read these articles??

Before you start reading...GET IN THE RIGHT MINDSET

  • Spend a few minutes thinking about your topic. 
  • In your mind or (better yet) on paper, brainstorm some of your initial thoughts about your topic. 
  • Try to generate a list of questions about your topic that you hope your sources will answer/clarify. 
  • Keep these thoughts and questions in your mind as you read---look for those answers! 
  • It REALLY helps to have a PURPOSE in mind when reading academic documents.

SOME COMMON GENERAL RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

  • What is the official/legal/medical definition of ____________. (Fill in the blank with your topic)
  • How long has this been a problem?  What is the history of the problem?  Is the problem new or have recent events made the problem worse? 
  • Is there evidence that this problem is increasing or getting worse?
  • How common is the problem? 
  • Who is most affected by the problem?
  • What are the causes of the problem?

For this project, pay special attention to the negative effects/impacts of the problem…

  • Financially?
  • Legally?
  • Physical/medical?
  • Emotional/mental health?
  • Socially?
  • Educationally?

As much as possible, try to be positive/solution-focused…discover what can be done about the problem…

  • What has been done in the past?
  • What hasn’t worked?
  • Innovative solutions?
  • Evidence-based solutions?
  • What COULD be done?

Suggested Approach to Reading Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

  1. Read the Abstract Carefully
    • Get a clear sense of the paper’s focus…what research question did the study seek to answer?
    • What did the study conclude?

  1. Skip to the end of the article…Read the CONCLUSION

    • Journal articles are not like magazine articles, blog posts, or novels—they do not (and probably should not) be read chronologically the first time through

  1. Carefully read the Introduction and the Discussion, then re-read the Conclusion

    • Highlight, take notes, identify key ideas and evidence...look for facts, statistics, definitions, examples, explanations, evidence-based results, etc. that help you develop a clear understanding of the issue, its impact, and possible solutions/treatments
    • It’s OK to skim (not skip) the Methodology and Results sections as these are the most technical
    • As you proceed through your 4 articles, look for the answers to the big questions you generated
    • You will find “common themes” (similar ideas and findings) emerge…these will become your headings!

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