Graziano and Raulin (8th ed)Graziano & Raulin
Research Methods (8th edition)

Organizing the Report

Publication is a critical part of the research process. Literally, publication means "to make public." Making science a public discipline serves two purposes. First, it facilitates building on old knowledge by making the knowledge accessible to everyone. Second, it subjects each finding to the scrutiny of many scientists, who can independently review the logic, procedures, results, and conclusions.

There is much to communicate in a research report, yet space restrictions demand that a report be concise. Thus, guidelines are necessary to aid communication while minimizing the journal space used. 

The publication manual prepared by the American Psychological Association (2001) is used as a guide by most psychology journals and journals in several other disciplines. Psychology majors, particularly those planning to attend graduate school, may wish to purchase a copy of the manual. This website outlines most key elements of APA publication style, going well beyond the basic coverage of  Appendix B in the text.

Structure of a Research Article

Organization is one key to a good research article. The American Psychological Association recommends that the body of a research article be organized into four parts: introduction, method, results, and discussion. In addition, the report should have a title page and a short (100–150 word) abstract, a reference section, and if necessary, figures and tables. 

The abstract briefly describes the study and its findings, permitting readers to ascertain what the article is about so as to decide whether it is of interest and should be read more thoroughly. The abstract is also published in one or more journals (e.g., Psychological Abstracts) or computer databases (e.g., PsycINFO) that specialize in abstracts. These journals or databases are cross-referenced to make it easier for a researcher to identify relevant research. 

The reference section provides details on where the reports of previous research can be found. There are specific standards on how to record that information, so that it can be presented in a concise and complete manner. Occasionally, additional attachments are included at the end of an article in the form of appendices. These can contain extended information, materials, or scales that are not readily available elsewhere.

Listed below are the basic elements of a journal article.

  1. Title Page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Method
    • Participants
    • Apparatus
    • Procedure
  5. Results
  6. Discussion
  7. References
  8. Appendices
  9. Footnotes and Author Note
  10. Tables
  11. Figures and Figure Captions