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Analysis of Writing Style

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Review of the Writing Style of a Research Paper

Research Paper Reviewed: Barrick, M. R., Mount, M. K., & Judge, T. A. (2001). Personality and performance at the beginning of the new millennium: What do we know and where do we go next? International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 9(1‐2), 9-30.


The paper under review is a master-piece in the area of Personality and Performance as it consolidates the findings of all the major research carried out in the field up till 2000. It is a second order meta-analysis of 15 prior meta-analytic studies that have investigated the relationship between the Five Factor Model (FFM) personality traits and job performance.

Structure of the paper: The paper is divided into the following major sections:-

• Abstract

• Introduction

• Method

• Results

• Discussion

• References

• Appendix

Abstract: The abstract is written in a very lucid language and is to the point. In the very first line, the authors make it absolutely clear what the reader can expect from the paper “... about personality-performance relationships…”. In the second line, the authors clearly mention what they have done in the research “… quantitatively summarize the results of 15 prior meta-analytic studies…”. Moving further, the authors have discussed their findings in precise language. At the end, they have called for a moratorium on meta-analytic studies of the type reviewed in their study and recommended researchers to embark new research agenda.

Learnings from the “abstract” section: The abstract should be written such that the reader knows after reading it whether it is meant for her or not. The abstract should convey the research topic, research method and findings in a very precise and concise manner.

Introduction: In this section, the authors have built up interest for the reader in a beautiful manner. They have progressed in a time line manner starting from the earliest works in the area to the most recent. They have divided the time frame in two phases – the first spans from early 1900s to mid-1980s and the second from mid 1980s to end of 2000. The division of the timeline in the two phases has been justified by proper reasoning. In the former phase, the researchers could not establish any significant relationship between personality and performance while in the latter phase it was the opposite. After mentioning this distinction in the two phases, the authors then tried to explain the reason behind the difference in the findings of the research works of the two phases. They attributed the difference to be because of the use of Five Factor Model (FFM) as a measure of personality after the mid-1980s which led to converging results. The authors used technical terms like “construct level”, “inventory level”, “scales”, “correlations”, “meta-analysis”, “second order meta-analysis” and “sampling error”. The authors provided the context of the study in the introduction section.

After providing the generic introduction into the topic of personality-performance relationship, the authors further divided the introduction into subsections – Five-Factor Model of Personality and Relations between the FFM Traits and Job Performance. In the former subsection, they defined the big five factors of FFM. The definitions made absolutely clear the meaning and usage of the different factors. The authors also used examples to explain them. In the latter subsection, they briefly discussed the findings of relationship between the FFM traits and job performance. Here also they segregated the discussion in two parts, one in which they discussed about FFM traits impact on overall job performance and in second they focussed on specific job performance or criteria. Here, they also set their expectations clear. They gave an indication of what relationships they expect after their second order meta-analysis.

Learnings from the “introduction” section: The “introduction” part should be written such that the reader is drawn into the topic. It should have a flow preferably starting from historic evidence reaching down to the most recent research. It should start with a generic discussion regarding the research in the area and then it can be segregated into subsections depending upon the focus area of the current paper. Basic definitions and terminologies should be discussed briefly. It is better to discuss about the expectations of the current research in this part because that sets the tone for the methodology part.

Method: The authors divided this section into two parts – first, Literature Review and second Analyses. In the literature review part, the authors clearly mentioned the research works and papers they studied for the second order meta-analysis. “All prior meta-analyses of the relationship between personality (categorized using the Big Five model or some variant) and job performance conducted during the 1990s and published or presented at a conference served as the source of data for this study”. They also mentioned how they did the literature search. They first did a computer based literature search using PsycLIT and then a manual article-by-article search in some specific journals like Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology etc. from 1990 to 1998. Then they mentioned the number of meta-analyses identified as useful for the current analysis. Here they gave reference to the appendix of their paper. In the appendix they have provided the summary of the meta-analyses. It also identifies the criteria and occupations for which data were reported. After giving reference of the appendix, they returned to the discussion on their literature review where they explained the reasons behind selection



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