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Writing 10: College Reading and Composition (49-Downey)

Spring 2024

Step 4 - Read & Evaluate

Evaluating sources is an important step of the research process. Decorative element: Icon of a rating scale from three stars down to oneThe evidence you choose to use for your research should accurately support what you are trying to argue and it should lend credibility to your work. If you cherry pick your sources, or find quotes that "kind of" fit in your paper, that can have the opposite effect.

How to Read a Scholarly Article (Video Tutorial)

Check out this short video (2:34) from Western University on How to Read a Scholarly Article.

Strategies for Reading Scientific Articles (Video Tutorial)

Check out this short video (5:30) from the University of Minnesota for tips on reading scientific articles. 

IMRaD Format for Scientific Articles

Reports of research studies usually follow the IMRaD format. IMRaD (Introduction, Methods, Results, [and] Discussion) is a mnemonic for the major components of a scientific paper. These elements are included in the overall structure outlined below.

Structure of a Research Paper: IMRaD Format

I. The Title Page

  • Title: Tells the reader what to expect in the paper.
  • Author(s): Most papers are written by one or two primary authors. The remaining authors have reviewed the work and/or aided in study design or data analysis (International Committee of Medical Editors, 1997). Check the Instructions to Authors for the target journal for specifics about authorship.
  • Keywords [according to the journal]
  • Corresponding Author: Full name and affiliation for the primary contact author for persons who have questions about the research.
  • Financial & Equipment Support [if needed]: Specific information about organizations, agencies, or companies that supported the research.
  • Conflicts of Interest [if needed]: List and explain any conflicts of interest.

II. Abstract: “Structured abstract” has become the standard for research papers (introduction, objective, methods, results and conclusions), while reviews, case reports and other articles have non-structured abstracts. The abstract should be a summary/synopsis of the paper.

III. Introduction: The “why did you do the study”; setting the scene or laying the foundation or background for the paper.

IV. Methods: The “how did you do the study.”
Describe the --

  • Context and setting of the study
  • Specify the study design
  • Population (patients, etc. if applicable)
  • Sampling strategy
  • Intervention (if applicable)
  • Identify the main study variables
  • Data collection instruments and procedures
  • Outline analysis methods

V. Results: The “what did you find” --

  • Report on data collection and/or recruitment
  • Participants (demographic, clinical condition, etc.)
  • Present key findings with respect to the central research question
  • Secondary findings (secondary outcomes, subgroup analyses, etc.)

VI. Discussion: Place for interpreting the results

  • Main findings of the study
  • Discuss the main results with reference to previous research
  • Policy and practice implications of the results
  • Strengths and limitations of the study

VII. Conclusions: [occasionally optional or not required]. Do not reiterate the data or discussion. Can state hunches, inferences or speculations. Offer perspectives for future work.

VIII. Acknowledgements: Names people who contributed to the work, but did not contribute sufficiently to earn authorship. You must have permission from any individuals mentioned in the acknowledgements sections. 

IX. References: Complete citations for any articles or other materials referenced in the text of the article.

Thank you to the University of Minnesota Libraries for allowing reuse of this content

What is Peer Review & Is My Article Scholarly?

Peer review is a process for evaluating research studies before they are published by an academic journal. These studies typically communicate original research or analysis for other researchers. 

The Peer Review Process at a Glance


1. Researchers conduct a study and write a draft. 2. Researchers submit a draft to a journal. 3. Journal editor considers and sends to reviewers. 4. Reviewers provide feedback and ask questions. 5. Researchers receive feedback, revise or respond.

6. Journal rejects, accepts, or accepts with revisions.

Looking for peer-reviewed articles? 

Try searching in UC Library Search or a library database and look for options to limit your results to scholarly/peer-reviewed or academic journals. You can also check Ulrichsweb, see below for details... 

How can I be sure my journal article is scholarly?

Many databases offer the option to search for "peer-reviewed" journal articles - those are academic articles reviewed by the authors' peers for accuracy during the editing and publishing process.

If you are using a database that does not have this filter option, or if you find an article citation somewhere else, you can check if the article was published in a "peer-reviewed" journal or magazine by using Ulrichsweb.

  1. Search for your journal or magazine by title
  2. Look for a little black and white striped referee jersey icon next to its name Referee jersey icon from Ulrichsweb serials directory 
  3. The Content Type will say "Academic/Scholarly"

Ulrichsweb screen shot of journal entry

Need Help?

If your publication does not appear in Ulrichsweb, please contact a librarian for more help.

The peer review process graphics used here are a derivative of the "All About Peer Review“ guide created by Tessa Withorn, Carolyn Caffrey, and Dana Ospina at the CSUDH Library and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

Step 4 - Pause to Reflect

When evaluating sources of information Decorative element: Icon of the outline of a standing person in a pensive pose with a thought bubble above their headfor accuracy and credibility, there are many aspects of the source that you can consider.  One source that might not fit your research question could still be useful to someone else, so it's not helpful to think about "good" or "bad" sources. Most importantly, if a resource is from a trustworthy author or organization and helps you answer your research question, then you have identified a useful source. Please contact your instructor or a librarian if you would like more help!