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RES 7111 Research Design: How to Read a Scholarly Article

Tips for Reading a Scholarly Article

Research articles have a formal structure that allows you to move from section to section easily. Use this formal structure to your advantage.

Tip 1. Do not read the article sequentially from first page to last. This will only get you bogged down in the details, and make it difficult to make overall sense of it.

Tip 2. Do read the following sections in order: abstract, introduction, discussion, and any tables and graphs.

  • Abstract

               Gives you a quick, easy to understand overview of the research goals and findings.

  • Discussion

              Explains what was found (or how successful the study was), and any problems encountered by the researchers.

             If different from the abstract, go with the information given in the Discussion.

  • Introduction - stimulates interest and introduces topic

               Skim the background (literature review). Focus on finding the purpose of the research, and any hypotheses being tested.

               If different from the abstract, go with the information given in the Introduction.

  • Results - finding, key data, tables and graphs
  • Methods - experiments

Tip 3. Do read the entire article sequentially, AFTER you have scanned the sections above and IF you have decided to include it in your literature review.

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article