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General Education

Tips for Reading Scholarly Articles

Scholarly (a.k.a. peer-reviewed) articles can be difficult to read, but in many cases you won't need to read the entire article from start to finish. In fact, that's rarely the best way to read them! These links include tips and hints for getting the most understanding out of articles that can look intimidating at first.

Reading for Understanding—All Texts

  1. Read your text straight through. Next to each paragraph, write a number between 0 and 3 to indicate your level of understanding, with 0 meaning you do not understand it at all and 3 meaning you feel very confident that you fully understand the meaning of the paragraph.
  2. Go back and reread the article, focusing on paragraphs that you gave less than a 3. Would you change your ratings after a second time through?
  3. For those paragraphs that are still a 0 or 1, what would help you understand them?
    1. Is there a lot of unfamiliar vocabulary? If so, underline the unfamiliar words and look up their meanings.
    2. What do you know already about the topic in the paragraph? Does thinking about this help you understand the content better?
    3. What do you know about the genre type? For example, is it a scholarly article? If so, does it follow a typical format with a literature review, methodology, results, and discussion? If so, can you understand what is most important by rereading certain sections of the article?
    4. Under what context was this text written? Think about who, what, where, and why. Does this help you understand the text any better, or does it reveal things you need to find out in order to understand it?

adapted from Broussard, Mary Snyder. Reading, Research, and Writing: Teaching Information Literacy with Process-Based Research Assignments. Association of College and Research Libraries, 2017, p. 82.

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