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Preparing and evaluating research reports

Preparing and evaluating research reports,10.1037//1040-3590.7.3.228,Psychological Assessment,Alan E. Kazdin

Preparing and evaluating research reports   (Citations: 16)
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Preparation of research reports for journal publication or dissemination in some other form is a central part of the research process. This article discusses preparation of the report in light of how the information is likely to be evaluated and how the report contributes to the research process. The focus is on three essential features: description, explanation, and contextualization of the study. These features are elaborated by reviewing the contents of each section of the manuscript and ques- tions to guide authors and reviewers for preparing and evaluating the report. Emphasis is placed on conveying the rationale for decisions made in the design, execution, and analysis of the study. Com- mon issues related to the interpretation of assessment studies, including test validity data, the rela- tion of constructs and measures, and sampling, are highlighted as well. The research process consists of the design and execution of the study, analysis of the results, and preparation of the report (e.g., journal article). The final step seems straightforward and relatively easy, given the nature and scope of the other steps. In fact, one often refers to preparation of the article as merely "writing up the results." Yet the implied simplicity of the task belies the significance of the product in the research process. The article is not the final step in this process. Rather, it is an important beginning. The article is often a launching platform for the next study for the authors themselves or for others in the field who are interested in pursuing the findings. Thus, the re- port is central to the research process. The article itself is not only a description of what was accom- plished, but it also conveys the extent to which the design, exe- cution, and analyses were well conceived and appropriate. Rec- ognition of this facet of the report is the reason why faculty require students in training to write a proposal of the study in advance of its execution. At the proposal stage, faculty can ex- amine the thought processes, design, planned execution, and data analyses and make the necessary changes in advance. Even so, writing the full article at the completion of the study raises special issues. At that point, the authors evaluate critical issues, see the shortcomings of the design, and struggle with any clashes or ambiguities of the findings in light of the hypotheses. The purpose of this article is to discuss the preparation and evaluation of research reports (articles) for publication.1 Guidelines are presented to facilitate preparation of research articles. The guidelines cover the types of details that are to be included, but more important, the rationale, logic, and flow of the article to facilitate communication and to advance the next stage of the research process. Thus, preparation of a research report involves many of the same considerations that underlie the design and plan of the research.
Journal: Psychological Assessment - PSYCHOL ASSESSMENT , vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 228-237, 1995
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