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Assignment | Social Impact Annotated Bibliography (Pentecost): Reading a Scholarly Article

ENGL 1301 | Prof. R. Pentecost (Fall 2021)

How to Read a Scholarly Research Article

Tutorial: Reading Scholarly Articles


Don't think of scholarly articles as novels that you can't skip around. While you want to make sure you're not taking anything out of context, you're on a mission to get information for your topic.

Your Strategy:

Title Scholarly articles will typically have descriptive titles. You can read this from the search results, of course.
Abstract An abstract is a summary of all parts of the article. You may be able to read this from the search results, or look on page 1 of the article.
Introduction This will give you context for the article. What's the general state of knowledge in the field? Why is the author investigating the topic of this article?
Results and/or Discussion If there's original research involved, skip down to where they give their conclusion, the big take-away of their results.

Does everything still sound pretty good?

If yes, then you can finally read through the paper from start to finish. On your first pass, just read to get an overall sense of what's in there. Then read it a second time to make notes and highlights.


Use this to search for keywords in a document if there's one really important and specific keyword you need to find.

Caveat: most pdfs are searchable, but occasionally you might find one that isn't. Try searching for a word from the title to make sure this trick is working. (Also double-check your spelling before writing any articles off!)