Most students are familiar with reading textbooks and websites but unfamiliar with journal publications when they start university. In Levels 1 and 2, textbooks are often the main source of student reading; as you progress into levels 3 and 4, and on to postgraduate study, you are expected to draw on relevant research articles in journal publications rather than rely on textbooks.

Journal publications include studies/articles/papers which are peer-reviewed. This means that any article included in a journal, has been very rigorously reviewed against strict criteria and standards by a panel of researchers or scholars in the field.

  • Journal publications are a rich source of information: they aim to continually challenge and build new knowledge about your subject area.
  • Your module handbook will identify a selection of journal publications which are useful and directly relevant to your subject.
  • In your assignments it is expected that you will refer to a range of research articles to develop your discussion of the particular topic.

What are research articles?

  • Individual research articles in a journal are typically 8000 words in length;
  • They are written by researchers who report in detail on the investigation they have conducted on a specific issue;
  • They analyse what previous research has found through a literature review section;
  • They explain how their investigation was undertaken, how the data were collected and why particular methods were used to do this;
  • They provide analysis of the data; from their analysis they identify findings and what these mean for practice and future research.

Why do I have to critically read and make reference to research articles in my assignments?

  • Reference to research articles assists in developing critical discussion in your assignment;
  • You use them as sources from which you can:
    • Build discussion of how of current real world business, management, socio-cultural, economic and political issues are understood and debated;
    • Compare and contrast how issues are addressed through development of particular strategies, innovations, policies and ‘best’ practices;
    • Identify lessons/recommendations from research for your or a case study organisation to develop its practices and processes.

Critical reading of research articles can be viewed as a structured process that:

  • Encourages you to engage in a discussion with the article
  • Is purposeful and focused through a questioning approach –have a look at the template for critical reading of research articles for suggestions on how to develop a focused, questioning approach to reading research articles and how to select material from a research article in your assignment.