Child Development 133 
Research Methods in Human Development

Sections 04, 68 & 69
Hembree            Spring, 2011


Summary/Critique Papers

Two 3-4 page summaries of empirical journal articles are required. Each paper should include a short summary of the study (introduction, hypotheses, method, results, discussion), as well as an evaluation of the study's method and/or conclusions. For the first paper (due 2/14), summarize the article (the first supplementary reading) listed below. For the second paper (due 4/20), summarize an article you plan to use in writing your research project report. Please attach a copy of the article to your paper. 

Be sure to use the guiding questions in writing this first critique paper. They will help you to identify the most important points of the article to include in your paper. You may re-write the first critique paper to improve your grade.


At the top of your paper, you should write the reference of the study, using APA style (see below for examples). The structure of your paper should mirror the structure of the article itself. It should have five sections (do not use headings!).

Begin with an introductory paragraph explaining the researcher's rationale, purpose and hypotheses. Do not summarize the abstract.

Describe the study participants and the procedures and materials used to collect data.

Summarize what the researcher(s) found (there is no need to report statistics).

Discuss the researcher's conclusions and tie them to other research in the field. Given the results of this study, what might be the next step for researchers interested in this topic?

Evaluate the study. What were (at least two) strengths or limitations to the researcher's method or conclusions?

Some suggestions:

  • This is a short paper. DO NOT use headings.
  • This is a short paper. There is no need to use direct quotes. Use your own words, giving credit for ideas that are not your own.
  • In summarizing your study, stick to the MOST important points of the paper. For ideas about what is most important, see the abstract at the beginning of the paper or consult your text.  
  • Use APA style; Be succinct and CLEAR. Avoid informal or "flowery" language. Consult your APA text for important reminders about writing style.
  • Proofread and revise your paper. It would be helpful, for example, to have a friend who has not read the study read your paper and try to tell you what the study was about. This will help you to discover what might be unclear in your summary.
  • See me if you are having difficulty with your paper or in understanding the study. I may be able to help.

Article for first summary paper: (Reading #1 available online using password provided by instructor):

Waldrip, A.M., Malcolm, K.T., & Jensen-Campbell, L. A. (2008).  With a little help from your friends: The

importance of high-quality friendships on early adolescent adjustment. Social Development,

17, 832-852.


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Send problems, comments or suggestions to:

California State University, Sacramento
College of Education
Department of Child Development

Updated: January, 2011