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PSY 289 - Downtown - Psychology Research Methods: Publication Types

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Publications

What is Peer Review?

Mind mapping

Sections in a Research Report

In APA style, most empirical research reports contain these eight sections. The bullet points give you a sense of what is discussed in a quantitative study. Qualitative studies are different.

Title of the article

Author and Institutional Affiliation

Samuel T. Brown

Department of Psychology, University of Alabama


  • A summary of four essential sections: 
    • Introduction: Objectives
    • Method:         Participants & Study Method
    • Results:         Findings
    • Discussion:  Conclusions


Note: This section is never labeled "Introduction." It simply begins the article.

  • Problem being studied: its importance and implications
  • Review of relevant scholarship
  • Hypotheses, aims, and objectives
  • Relation of the hypotheses to the research design


  • How the study was conducted
    • ​Participants - characteristics
    • Sampling: how representative participants were chosen
    • Variables studied: operational definitions and measures
    • Research design and procedure
      • Were conditions manipulated or naturally observed?
      • Type of design (e.g., randomized experiment; longitudinal design, etc.)
      • How data were collected
    • How data were analyzed to produce the findings


  • Any deviations from the research plan
  • Results of the statistical analysis
    • including statistical significance; effect size estimates; confidence intervals


  • Were the hypotheses supported or not?
  • How do these results compare to previous research?
  • Interpretation of the results
    • What can we conclude?
    • Always must considers the limitations of the study
  • How far can we generalize these results? 
  • What are the implications for future research or policy?


  • Lists all sources cited in the paper (with a few exceptions).
  • Nothing will be included that is not cited in the text. (An exception: Meta-analyses list some studies that are not cited)


For more on APA style and standard sections in articles, see the official printed book, available at PCC library. Click the link to see.

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://10.1037/0000165-000