Components of a Research Article

Components of a Research Article

RESEARCH PRINCIPLE: the result of research is new knowledge (empirical data) about a phenomenon; therefore, the focus of a research article is on the following:

  1. The need for new knowledge about a phenomenon (problem delineation)
  2. What is already known about the phenomenon (theory base, literature review)
  3. What still needs to be known (literature review)
  4. What specifically needs to be investigated by the research (purpose statement/research questions or hypothesis)
  5. Method to obtain the knowledge (methodology)
  6. Description of the knowledge gained findings/results)
  7. Discussion of the new knowledge in light of the identified need, i.e. does this knowledge contribute to solution of the problem as expected (discussion and conclusion)


The research critique involves an evaluation of the adequacy of the knowledge gained. Adequacy is determined by how well the authors :
  1. Performed and expressed each component of the research.
  2. Followed a clear, logical progression through the process.
  3. Maintained congruence among components of the research: e.g.
    1. Were the variables tested through hypotheses those identified in the problem delineation;
    2. Did the conclusions adequately reflect the findings?
    3. Utilized appropriate and adequate tools to obtain the data?
    4. Analyzed data appropriately?
    5. Made generalizations adequately and appropriately?


  1. Delineation of a problem -- why the author wanted to conduct the research.
    1. a. Something is occurring which has negative consequences
    2. extent of occurrence, i.e., number of people affected
    3. severity of consequences, i.e., cost, morbidity, etc.
    4. Solution to the problem provides new information which will contribute to lessening the severity of the consequences.
  2. Possible solution which needs research because:
    1. Needed information is not known
    2. There is equivocal information about the problem
    3. Current information was gleaned from a small sample
    4. There were problems with previous studies which purported to provide the information which make the information suspect.
  3. Purpose of the study -- to implement the proposed solution
  4. Theory base -- provide basis for expecting the proposed solution to be effective
  5. Literature review, to provide information about:
    1. What is already known about the phenomenon
    2. What needs to be known
    3. What kinds of problems others have had in investigating the proposed solution.
    4. What has been wrong with previous research investigating the problem
  6. Hypotheses/research questions
  7. (What the authors actually investigated)Includes definitions of terms in hypotheses which are not universally understood so the reader can determine if the variables investigated fit with the reader's definition.

  8. Methodology
    1. Description of the population/sample
    2. Description of the design of the study if appropriate
    3. Description of the study variables (components of the phenomenon about which there is inadequate information)
    4. Discussion and description of other things which might contribute to findings that the authors needed to control for (extraneous variables)
    5. Description of tools to collect data including their reliability and validity
    6. Description of procedures used to collect data
      1. How individual sample members were asked to participate
      2. How human rights were assured
      3. How data were collected
  9. Findings
    1. Description of the sample/population
    2. Statement of the findings, results or hypothesis testing.
  10. Discussion/conclusion
    1. Explanation of the findings and/or discussion of the fit between findings and the problem
      1. Whether the new data are adequate
      2. If there were unexpected problems with findings that need to be discussed
      3. What these findings tell one about the phenomenon being investigated
      4. The impact these findings might have in "the real world" of the phenomenon
      5. Where these findings fit with findings of other students in providing understanding of the phenomenon as a whole

    Adapted from Juanita Keck DNS, RN research presentation

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