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Discussion: Research

All scientific fields change constantly, and this includes psychology. There are nearly 30,000 peer-reviewed scientific journals of every discipline available, and they publish nearly 2 million articles a year. These articles go through a process known as peer review before they are able to be published. Once the researchers complete a study, they write it up as an article to communicate their results to others. These papers are detailed and technical, and tend to include four sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. These articles are submitted to one of the many peer-reviewed journals, and the journal editor then asks other researchers who are experts in the field to read and critique the research. The feedback from the reviewers (usually two) is then given to the original authors, who respond to the comments, and, eventually, the article is published. While there are sometimes problems with this system, it generally works well to improve the quality of writing and the accuracy of information published. However, these articles tend to be technical and may not be easy to understand for someone who does not have a background on the topic. Conveniently, many of the more interesting and socially relevant results are rewritten for a more general audience. These may be brief summaries included in scientific journals or articles written for newspapers or magazines. Such sources are probably the primary way in which such information is distributed to the general public. However, such articles typically lack detail and tend to oversimplify the results of the research being described.

In this Discussion, you will review both types of information (popular media and primary research reports) on a topic of interest having to do with the brain and behavior. You will then compare these sources based on such things as their writing style and content.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review this week’s Learning Resources about the peer-review process.
  • Go to the following website: http://www.biopsychology.com/news. In the top, right-hand corner box (Search Article Summaries), select a keyword link that you are interested in (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease). Browse through two or three recent articles (published within the past 5 years). Take note of the style of writing that is used, as well as the level of description of the studies. Note that these articles are typically written by science journalists about someone else’s research.
  • Next, visit the Walden online journal collection, and locate a peer-reviewed journal article related to the same topic (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease). Be sure that the article you select is a research report—that is, it should contain sections that describe in detail the sample of individuals studied, the methods of data collection, and the results of the study. As you read the article, take note of the style of writing used by the author(s) and the level of description of the study. Compare this article to those you read from the BioPsychology.com website
  • Record citations for all of the articles you read for this Discussion.

With these thoughts in mind:

By Day 3

Post a description of the peer-review process, including how it works, the benefits of this system, and an example of how this process might not work as intended. If you were a researcher or journal editor, what would you propose to do differently to improve the process?

In a second paragraph, post a brief summary of one of the BioPsychology.com articles and another brief summary of the research article (include both in-text citations and a complete reference in APA format). Compare the two types of information on criteria such as ease of understanding, level of detail, and accuracy. Address both similarities and differences in the papers. Finally, describe the benefits of each type of article for college students studying brain and behavior or for researchers studying the brain. (Note: You only need to address either students or researchers.)

Note: Put the keyword topic you have selected in the first line of your post. You will be asked to respond to a colleague who selected a different keyword topic than you did.

Support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources and any additional sources you identify using both in-text citations and complete references in APA format.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

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