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CHMA10 Web of Science Research Basics

How To Read a Journal Article

Most scientific journals format their articles in a standard way; breaking them into clearly defined and labeled sub-sections.

If you are looking for a specific kind of information - think about which section might have the information that you need, and skip to that section. For example the Introduction and Discussion sections are good places to look for general information and an overview of the important issues.

Here is one approach to reading 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!

How to Read a Scholarly Article

*Used with permission from the Undergraduate Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Article Reading Resources