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Reading a Scholarly Article

This guide discusses the parts of a scholarly article and provides tips on how to read one.

Sources Consulted

Cunningham, A., & Hannon, R. (2013). Reinforcing College Reading Strategies in the Library Classroom. LOEX Quarterly, 40(1).

Middlesex Community College Jean Burr Smith Library. (2017). How to Read a Scholarly Journal Article.

Reading Techniques. (2017, April 18). Dartmouth Academic Skills Center.

How to Read an Article Efficiently (and Like a Scholar)

Scanning and skimming are essential when reading scholarly articles, especially at the beginning stages of your research or when you have a lot of material in front of you.

Many scholarly articles are organized to help you scan and skim efficiently. The next time you need to read a scholarly article, use the following chart as a guide:

Read / skim in this order: While asking yourself:
1. Abstract What is the article about? Is it relevant to your research?
2. Introduction What is the main research question?
3. Discussion / Results What are the key findings or answers to the research question?
4. Methods How was research or analysis conducted?
5. Conclusion What are the key conclusions? What might be some implications for future research?

Using a Scholarly Article

The diagram below depicts the sections of scholarly articles, what their purposes are, and how you can use them in a research paper or project. Note that the first, grey, dotted box includes sections that discuss objective, external, old / established knowledge. You should typically summarize or paraphrase these sections.

The second, red, dotted box includes sections that present subjective, insightful, new knowledge. You should quote directly from these sections (but do so sparingly).

For more information about using scholarly articles, visit our interactive tutorial on Using Sources: Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing.