Choose ONE (1) journal article for this assignment. You will need to summarize the journal article following the guidelines outlined in this handout. The article should be no more than 5 years old. The summary should be about two to three pages. The summary should be double-spaced and use 12-point font. You will also need to turn in a copy of the original article with your summary (provide either the link directly to the article or a copy of the full article with your summary).
KNS 280/PSYC 258: Introduction to sport & exercise psychology
Assignment: Summary of Professional Journal Article
This assignment is designed to help you learn to read scholarly articles and how to get and
summarize the important information.
I. Selecting A Journal Article (refer to this when selecting articles for your term paper)
The more care you take in selecting an article to summarize, the easier the reading and writing
will be. You can find articles at the library and over the internet. First, let’s address the library.
You can get assistance finding appropriate journals by consulting the reference desk. The library
staff can show you to the professional journals and how to access them online. Some hints:
1. If the journal has the words “journal” and “sport psychology” in the title, it’s probably
2. If the journal has glossy pictures or looks like you’d get it at a magazine rack, it’s probably not
3. Psychology Today is not an appropriate journal!
Some appropriate journals include:
Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology
Journal of Applied Sport Psychology
The Sport Psychologist
Perceptual & Motor Skills
International Journal of Sport Psychology
If you’re not sure the journal is appropriate, check with me before using it in your paper. Note
that you are best served by getting your articles well in advance before the paper is due. Waiting
until the last minute will probably hurt you.
So how do you choose a journal and an article? Well, to start with, choose the topic/mental
skill you would like to use. You can find something of interest by flipping through a journal (go
to the journal stacks in the library), or by using the computer system in the library or over the
So what if you decide to use the internet? The Web has the advantage of convenience but
requires more diligence to be sure you select an appropriate journal article. I recommend against
using internet search programs (e.g., Lycos, Excite, Yahoo, etc.), because you will find websites
more often than journal articles. Instead, access the electronic resources through the Library page
of the Whittier College website. I recommend you use the “SPORTDiscus” database. You
should set it to search for “full text articles” when you conduct your search of the specific topic
that interests you. It does you little good to print out only a summary of the article; you need to
read the whole article of interest, and be sure to check that it comes from an appropriate
professional journal, as described above. Also, make sure your article was published within the
last 5 years.
II. Reading the Article
Students get into trouble when they try to write their summary as they read an article for the
first time. Simply reading and using a highlighter has limited value. Students have a tendency to
highlight either nothing or 90% of the article! If you’re not sure how to read and summarize an
article, I recommend taking notes on a separate sheet of paper as you read. Don’t copy passages
from the article; instead, just jot down important points and facts in your own words so you
understand your notes. Also, I have put a supplemental resource for how to read and
summarize a journal article on the moodle page for the class, look under “Course
Documents” for the pdf file “How to Read & Summarize a Journal Article.” I think this is a
good resource to help you further your understanding of reading and summarizing a journal
So what points are important?
In an article presenting a research study (the easiest to summarize), there are typically four
main sections: an introduction, method, results, and discussion sections. In the introduction of
the article (everything prior to the section titled “Method”), look especially for the hypothesis or
hypotheses. These are the assumptions the study is designed to test. The earlier part of the
introduction typically presents previous research leading up to the current study. Highlight terms
you don’t understand and try to derive the meaning from context or a dictionary. When you write
your paper, explain what these terms mean in your own words.
In the method section, note who participated in the study and what they were asked to do.
Were they asked to fill out surveys? Did they perform a task? Was deception used to keep the
participants from knowing the true purpose of the study? Remember that these methods are
supposed to test the accuracy of the hypotheses mentioned earlier. Do they seem to do so
The results section can be intimidating. It is in this section that statistical analyses are
presented. These analyses are conducted to evaluate the data acquired through the methods used
in the prior section. These analyses lead to the conclusions drawn in the next (discussion) section
about the hypotheses that are the point of the whole study.
In the results section, I am not overly interested in all the specific numbers and types of
statistical tests performed. But you should look through this section and especially note the tables
and figures presented. Even without a strong knowledge of statistics, you can usually get a sense
of whether the results seem to support the authors’ hypotheses.
In the final section, the discussion section, the authors draw conclusions based on the study’s
results. Often they decide whether their hypotheses are supported or rejected and talk about the
implications of the results. Report the author’s conclusions and maybe draw some of your own.
Some articles may present more than one study or none at all. In the former case, you need to
summarize all the studies. In the latter case, try to get an idea of the purpose of the article (the
writer’s thesis, much like a paper you’d write for English class), and the points used to support
the writer’s position (or thesis). Again, be sure to define all relevant terms in your own words.
III. Writing the Summary
To avoid problems of unintentional plagiarism, I suggest that you put the article aside when
actually writing up your summary. If you’ve taken notes as I suggested in the earlier section, you
can use those notes to write your summary. If you took care to take notes in your own words
with good clear definitions of the terms (again, in your own words), then you will not
inadvertently use the authors’ words in writing up your summary. Yes, it’s plagiarism even if it’s
unintentional. Some students benefit from writing an outline of the summary first. Do this if you
You also want to avoid writing the summary as you read because you will follow along with
the article far too closely. Recall that this is meant to be a summary. Think of it this way, when
you read a newspaper or magazine article you find interesting and later on tell a friend about it,
do you typically get the article and read along with it to describe it to your friend? Likely not.
You summarize the high points, with enough background information to help your friend
understand what the article’s about before hitting the major points you found of most relevance.
Do the same thing here. Cover the introduction of the article by basically saying what the
article’s about. What were the authors studying and why? What did they expect to find (i.e., what
were the hypotheses of the authors)? Then sketch over the basic methods. How did they measure,
what they were studying? What type of population (abused kids, adults with a disease, college
students, rats, etc.) were they studying?
For the results section, there is no need to describe the specific statistical techniques used.
You can if you want to and are knowledgeable about such things. You should have an idea of
what the authors were comparing or measuring or correlating, etc. That is, how did they test
those hypotheses (not what specific tests, like t-tests or ANOVAs). For example, if they were
studying whether kids or adults were better at video games, you could say the authors had kids
and adults play a variety of video games and they compared their performance on them by seeing
which group got a higher average score.
Finally, for the discussion section you report whether these results supported or failed to
support the authors’ hypotheses. The authors may draw conclusions about why they got the
results they did. They often describe limitations of the research, and suggest paths for future
research. Summarize these and form your own opinions if you like.
IV. Proofreading, Printing, Handing in the Summary and Dealing with Feedback
Finally, you are not done once you’ve typed the final word of your summary. You’ve written a
first draft. Read over your summary. Spell check it with whatever computer program you have,
but re-read it afterward to catch other spelling errors (like when you misspell “too” for “two”)
and grammatical mistakes. Does it make sense? Correct errors, making sure to save your
Reading and writing are skills we continue to develop throughout our education, and even
beyond. So use this opportunity to practice these skills at the college level so that you can excel
not only in your classes, but when you enter the job market and are called upon to read or write
reports or even summarize something in an oral presentation. These skills generalize beyond this
course, so be diligent in trying to hone them, and they will prove useful to you.
Choose ONE (1) journal article for this assignment. You will need to summarize the
journal article following the guidelines outlined in this handout. The article should be no more
than 5 years old. The summary should be about two to three pages. The summary should be
double-spaced and use 12-point font. You will also need to turn in a copy of the original article
with your summary (provide either the link directly to the article, or a copy of the full article
with your summary).
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