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Report Writing Alternative

How to read a journal article (updated)

Click on the video above -- less than 5min long! -- to learn how to summarize a research article.

How does the report writing alternative work?

Report credit is awarded in units of one (1) SONA credit -- or 0.5% of extra credit -- per 350-word summary of a journal article published by the American Psychological Association (APA) or the American Psychological Society (APS) – if done according to the instructions provided below. Such journals cover all of the major subfields of psychology, such as social, personality, clinical, developmental, cognitive, and behavioral neuroscience.  A list of approved research articles from a variety of journals has been curated for you.

CLICK HERE for journal articles


Although most students prefer participating in research if they qualify, you may choose to earn your extra credit through the Report Writing option.

If you choose to earn only a portion of your extra credits with the Report Writing option, log onto the SONA system to earn research participation credits.

How do I write a report?

To obtain report credit, choose a journal article that interests you from the approved list, and write a summary of the research it describes. Each 350-word summary of a journal article receives one (1) report credit, equal to 0.5% of extra credit. 

Research articles are generally organized into Introduction, Method, Results, and Discussion sections, so you can follow this overall structure in your report, using the following questions as a guideline.  Your report does not have to answer all of these questions to receive credit.

  • What previous research had been done in the area that the researchers were studying?
  • What did the researchers expect to find in their own study?
  • What procedures were used in the study (or studies) conducted by the researchers?
  • Who were the research participants, and where did they come from?
  • What variables were being manipulated and/or measured by the researchers?
  • What were the major results or findings of the study?
  • What were the main conclusions made by the researchers, based on their findings?
  • What did you find interesting or problematic about the research or its findings?
How do I submit my report(s) for credit?

Write your 350-word summary in a Word or Word-compatible document.  The minimum word count does not include the name of the article, journal, or your identifying information.

At the top of your report, note the title of the journal article you are summarizing.  Without this, your instructor or your teaching assistant (TA) cannot give you report credit.

Submit the report (or reports) to your instructor.  Follow their instructions for doing so.  Most instructors will ask you to upload the summaries into Canvas or email it to your instructor or TA.

Since extra credit for research participation is due by last day of classes, these reports should be submitted with sufficient time so that your instructor or TA can review the report(s) and give you credit.  Do not leave this until the last minute, or you may not earn the extra credit.  Please note the deadline(s) specified by your instructor in your section of PSY 101.


Journal article summaries must be written in your own words -- and go beyond the article abstract.

Plagiarism is using someone else's ideas or work as your own. 

  • Copying directly from the article without using quotation marks and citing your source is certainly an example of plagiarism.
  • However, taking a sentence from the article and changing a few words is also plagiarism.
  • Submitting part or all of someone else's summary -- and putting your name on it -- is plagiarism. 
  • You can also get into trouble when you cite properly. Using quotes excessively (even if cited) is plagiarism. If the bulk of your paper is quoted or paraphrased from other sources, and very little of the paper is your own original work, that is plagiarism, too!

All summaries will be scanned by plagiarism-detection software, which compares your report to the journal article itself, other students' summaries, and internet-based material.

Plagiarism is a violation of academic integrity and will be reported and sanctioned.