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CHEM 422L: Chemical Analysis II and Lab

How to Read a Scientific Article

Handout Summary: Reading a scientific article is a complex task. The worst way to approach this task is to treat it like the reading of a textbook—reading from title to literature cited, digesting every word along the way without any reflection or criticism. Rather, you should begin by skimming the article to identify its structure and features. As you read, look for the author’s main points. Generate questions before, during, and after reading. Draw inferences based on your own experiences and knowledge. And to really improve understanding and recall, take notes as you read. This handout discusses each of these strategies in more detail.

  1. Skim the article and identify its structure
  2. Distinguish main points
  3. Generate questions and be aware of your understanding
  4. Draw inferences
  5. Take notes as you read

How to Read a Scholarly Article

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 infographic

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

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