1. You will now use a map to guide you in assembling your collected data (research articles). Begin by creating a spreadsheet, this can be done in Excel (or any favorite spreadsheet program). You will need 6 columns and one row for each of your sources (15 or more).
2. Column 1: Begin by organizing your sources based on your key concepts. Enter a short name or description for a concept, such as you used for your concept map. Reference entries should be grouped on this column, i.e., if you have 5 articles relating to Concept 1, they should be organized as the first 5 entries (rows) in your spreadsheet.
3. Column 2: Enter the bibliographic info for the article.
4. Column 3: Bullet main points of the article. A review of the abstract can be helpful here, but also include what is important to YOU/YOUR PAPER about the article (your purpose for selecting it).
5. Column 4: Evaluate the data quality. Using the critical thinking skills you have developed as a psychology student (and are refreshing with the Stanovich text), determine the quality of the data (the particular study). Does it meet quality standards? If you have some concerns, state them here. Your evaluation should be included in your paper draft.
6. Column 5: To what claim is this data related? Each of your subtopics can be constructed as a simple claim; that is, your reason for presenting this collection of studies. For example, perhaps you think it is important to establish that there has been disagreement about the diagnostic criteria for a disorder. Your simple claim is that such disagreement exists. Write at least one simple claim statement for each of your key concepts, you may make more than one claim. In this column, enter the claim for which the study is relevant. If you make more than one claim for a given concept, subgroup your articles by claim, i.e., if 3 of your 5 articles for Concept 1 support one claim group them together in your spreadsheet and then group the other 2 for your second claim.
7. Column 6: Does the data support the claim? Indicate “yes” or “no” and bullet the evidence for or against. Both the supportive and unsupportive data should be discussed in your paper.
8. Review and conclusions. In a row removed from the main body of your table, type a brief review of the data collected. Review the results of your analysis in the table you created. What does it tell you about your references? Are some data irrelevant and need to be discarded (i.e., don’t fit any of your claims)? Do you need to gather more? Does a claim seem unrelated to the others or your main topic? How do you now see the connections between your articles? How do they now appear to relate to your main topic? What does your analysis and synthesis tell you about your topic?
9. Your thesis. In a row removed from the main body of your table, type your thesis. This is a statement about the results of your research. It can be in question or declarative form. This is your chance to say what you believe the data to be saying, a belief supported by the evidence you collected. If your review (Item 8 above) revealed you have more research to do, you may state that your thesis is preliminary and pending further research.