Scholarly sources often have a particular writing style and can be challenging to read compared to other types of sources. When reading scholarly literature, read strategically. Don't start by reading the article from start to finish but rather focus on the sections that will give you the information you need first. This will quickly let you know what the article is about and its relevancy for your research. It will also prepare you for when you’re ready to read the full article, giving you a mental map of its structure and purpose.
Here is a suggestion on how to read a scholarly article and which sections to focus on first.
How to Read a Scholarly Article
1. Read the abstract An abstract is a summary of the article, and will give you an idea of what the article is about and how it will be written. If there are lots of complicated subject-specific words in the abstract, the article will be just as hard to read. 2. Read the conclusion This is where the author will repeat all of their ideas and their findings. Some authors even use this section to compare their study to others. By reading this, you will notice a few things you missed, and will get another overview of the content. 3. Read the first paragraph or the introduction This is usually where the author will lay out their plan for the article and describe the steps they will take to talk about their topic. By reading this, you will know what parts of the article will be most relevant to your topic! 4. Read the first sentence of every paragraph These are called topic sentences, and will usually introduce the idea for the paragraph that follows. By reading this, you can make sure that the paragraph has information relevant to your topic before you read the entire thing. 5. The rest of the article Now that you have gathered the idea of the article through the abstract, conclusion, introduction, and topic sentences, you can read the rest of the article! To review: Abstract, Conclusion, Introduction, Topic Sentences, Entire Article
Database (examples: ERIC, JSTOR, Project Muse)
Searches articles, book chapters, reports, newsletters only in that database
Good for in-depth scholarly works on narrow topics
Use Advanced Search Option to separate and clarify search terms & keywords
Limit by publication date, resource type (for example, peer reviewed/scholarly), and more. Specific limiters available in some databases (examples below from EBSCO)
Sign up for database account to keep records permanently available (example below from EBSCO)