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Reading a Scholarly Article

The Parts of a Research Article

Gathering information from a scholarly article is different from reading a popular article. Most of the time you do not need to read a scholarly article from start to finish in order to understand what it's about.

On your first reading of the article, you just need to be concerned with whether the article contains information useful for your research. To do this, you should focus on the following:

  • Abstracts
    • These one or two paragraph summaries give you the highlights of the article and the author's findings
       
  • Introduction
    • The author introduces their research and may mention other work that has been done on the topic, which could be useful later
       
  • Conclusion/Discussions
    • This is where the author discusses what they discovered during their research
       
  • References
    • These are sources that the author used, so if this author found them useful, you probably will too
       

There maybe other parts of the article too, like a Methods or Results section. You will focus on those in later readings. You should read through an article more than once before before using it in your own research.

Rereading the Scholarly Article

Reading through an article once allows you to understand the main ideas of the article. The second or third readings of the article should be in more detail, and are typically from start to finish. They will allow you to pull more details from the article and identify specific elements you'll use later to support your own paper or project. During these readings you should concentrate on the following questions:

  • What is the author's main argument?
     
  • Does the author agree or disagree with the other research I have found?
     
  • What evidence does he/she provide? Is the argument well supported?
     
  • Do the author's conclusions flow logically from his/her argument and evidence?