Sport and exercise psychology Assignment

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.

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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 appropriate. 2. If the journal has glossy pictures or looks like you’d get it at a magazine rack, it’s probably not appropriate. 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 WWW. 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 article. 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 adequately? 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 like. 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 document occasionally. 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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