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Spark 1 (Golash-Boza): Reading Scholarly Articles

Incarceration & Gentrification

Quick Tips

Jump Around: ​It's okay to skip around in a scholarly article. Start by skimming the abstract, introduction, conclusion, and look at images or data representations. If the article looks to be useful for your purposes, read it from the beginning to end. 

Keep It Strategic: While you are reading, reflect on how the article relates to what you want to write about or research. ​​ 

Mark It Up: ​​Take notes. Interact with the article. How do the ideas or information presented relate to what you want to write about?

Cut through the Jargon: Unfamiliar technical terms? Google or use a specialized dictionary to find definitions. 

Replay​: If the article is relevant after you've read through it, consider reading it again. 

Find the Source : ​References can be a very useful resource. Be sure to skim the titles in the References section. You could find another scholarly article you want to read. 

Adapted from: https://libguides.valdosta.edu/reading-scholarly-articles

1. Abstract

Read the abstract first

The abstract previews the entire article, makes it easier to judge whether it is relevant.

Titles can only tell you so much about the content of the article. The Abstract acts as a preview for the entire article, including the methods and results. By reading the Abstract first, you can get a better idea of what the article is actually about, if it relates to what you are researching, and whether it is worth your time to read the rest of it.

2. Intro & Conclusion

Next, read the intro and the conclusion

Learn more about the topic of study and what the authors learned through their research.

  • These two sections give you the background information for the topic of the article as well as what happened in the study.
  • The introduction includes info about previous studies/papers that relate to the current one.
  • The conclusion will provide a summary of the the study findings or analysis and an explanation of how their research contributes to their specific field of study.
  • By reading the conclusion you see whether the study answered the original research question and what the authors see as the next steps in their research.

3. Look at the Data

Take a look at results, i.e. tables, charts, graphs or images 

Get a better idea of the results of the research or analytical study.

Closely look at the visual representations of the data. See what conclusions you come to and make note of them. When you read through the entire article, compare your own conclusions to what the authors saw in their results and data

4. Read the Article from Start to Finish

Do an in-depth reading

Now that you have pre-read some of the article and are sure it relates to your research topic, do an in-depth reading. 

Read the article from start to finish.

  • Take notes.
  • Summarize sections or paragraphs.
  • Keep a subject dictionary or the Internet/Wikipedia close by. If you come across any unfamiliar terms, you can quickly look them up.  
  • Keep track of the citation information of the articles you do read and want to use in your research. Look at the References/Works Cited list. You may find additional scholarly articles related to your research.