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