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PSYC 2270: Learning & Study Skills: Reading Scholarly Research

What to look for

Reading a Scholarly Research Article

The Parts of an Article

Most Scholarly Research Articles follow a specific format with the following sections:

·         Abstract – a brief summary of the entire article

·         Introduction – the purpose/thesis of the study conduct and an review of previous research related to the current study (“What We Already Know and What We Want to Know”)

·         Methodology = Describes how the study was conducted – who were the subjects, how were they tested, etc.  (“What We Did”)

·         Results – The data from the study. This is often presented using statistics, charts or graphs (“The Numbers”)

·         Discussion – A review and analysis of the results examining whether it proved or disproved the original thesis.  (“What We Found Out and Why It’s Important”)

·         Conclusion – Summarizes the findings in more accessible language and discusses its relation to other scholarship or encourages further research (“What We Still Need To Know”)

·         Bibliography – The sources the authors used to shape their own thoughts and creation of their research.


Work from the outside in!

Read the abstract, introduction, discussion and conclusion first.  Then go back and read the middle sections.  These parts will make more sense after reading the beginning and ending of the article.

Reading for Meaning

As you ae reading the article, here are some questions you should ask to help your understanding of it:

·         Identify the Claim – What did the researchers set out to prove?  Why are they studying this topic? (Abstract and introduction)

·         Determine the Scope – Who are the subjects of the study? What are their characteristics (age, gender, etc.)?  What is the sample size of the study? (Introduction and Methodology).

·         Evaluate the Method – How did the researchers conduct the study/experiment.  What were the conditions and tools used? (Methodology)

·         Examine the Results – Why are they important? What do they indicate about the thesis? (Results and Discussion)

·         Find the Gaps – What didn’t the researchers study? What would be the next steps in continuing this research? Did the authors identify any shortcomings of their work? Are there any opposing viewpoints presented in the article? How could future research problems be avoided? (Discussion and Conclusion)


Adapted from -

Instruction & Assessment Coordinator

Karen Nichols's picture
Karen Nichols
GL 105C
Mary & John Gray Library