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STAT 112

Exercise 1: Finding a study from a newspaper article

If you have been provided a newspaper article, look for any of the following information that might be included:

  • The year the study was completed
  • Population size
  • Who performed the study. This can include anyone that worked on a study or sometimes the institution that performed the study. Often identified by direct quotations.
  • What was the study about?
  • A journal name or article title
  • Other research mentioned


If you are searching for a newspaper article, look for one that contains the following types of information:

  • Mentions a research study (specifically). Avoid ones that only mention a survey, report, or census
  • Either the article title and journal or at least the journal name, researcher's name, and the study topic
  • The year the study was completed

Stat Decision tree

From the library's home page, select the "Journals" option.

            search options journals

Search for the name of the journal, newspaper, or magazine.

          search online journals

Select the journal title and then choose from the list of databases. Each database will also list the date range of availability for the publication.

        search options journals


Selecting a database

To find additional research studies relating to your initial study, you will need to use the library's databases. These can be found from the library's home page under "Databases."

On the Databases page, select the "All Subjects" drop-down menu option and then select the subject area that best fits the keywords for your topic area. There might be more that one subject that is applicable, so feel free to browse multiple subjects! For example, if you are researching football players and concussions, you could look under "Public Health" or "Sports and Entertainment Management." Each subject area will have a "Top Databases" section, although not all of the databases listed may fit your needs. Look at the title and the short description for a database that looks promising. Once you've selected a database, use the keywords and other search strategies to perform a search. If the results don't look promising you can try altering your keywords, or try looking in a different database.


NOTE: adding 'stud*' as a keyword can often help narrow down the results to only those that include studies or a study. You will probably still see some results that might not fit your needs, but there should be less of them.

Identifying keywords

Keywords are the main ideas or concepts of a paper. For example, if the research question is "Does taking selfies exhibit signs of narcissism and psychopathy in males?" some possible keywords would be selfies, men, psychopathy, and narcissism. You can also use words that would be synonyms such as male, photographs, photography, or vanity. You can then combine these keywords with boolean operators (and, or, not) to search within the databases. AND is used to  narrow a search by looking at only where both ideas are present. OR expands a search to include any of the ideas (usually used with synonyms. NOT is used to narrow a search by excluding an idea from the search.

Sample search:

(selfies OR photograph) AND (male OR men) AND (psychopathy OR narcissism)


Additional search techniques

Quotation marks:

When searching for a phrase, you can put quotation marks (" " ) around a phrase. This notifies the search engine that you want the terms to be found together as a phrase. The search will look for exactly what you put into the quotation marks, so be sure there are no mistakes.


Truncation can be used to expand your search by searching for multiple permutations of a word. This is done by adding a symbol (generally a *) to the root of a word. For example, libr* would search for library, librarian, and librarians but also other things such as liberal or libra. Using this method to search in combination with other keywords will generally help weed out any of the words that would not fit your search parameters while still helping to expand your search.

Exercise 2: Analyze a study

Using either the original study mentioned in the newspaper article or a related study find the following pieces of information:

  • Population
  • Data collection method(s)
  • Variables
  • Variable measurement method(s)
  • Types of analysis used
  • Weaknesses/ limitations of the study
  • Strengths of the study
  • Confounding variables
  • Were the differences practically significant?
  • Are there any funding biases/ conflicts?