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PHEN 300 - Research guide: How to read an academic article

3 steps to Reading an Academic Article

1. Don't panic!

* You just have to be strategic.

2. Hop Around

* Read the Abstract, then the Conclusion (Discussion.)  

* Then read the Introduction, followed by other sections as needed.

3. Take notes while you read

* The main purpose of the article is . . .

* The key question or thesis that the author is asking is . . .

* The author’s findings (facts and data that support the author’s argument) were...

* The main conclusion/inference in this article is/are . . . 


How to take notes and paraphrase article

Take notes for each article:

Author or authors: (hint read the abstract) ___________________________________________________________________________

Topic of research: (hint read the abstract or introduction) ____________________________________________________________________________

Participants/Setting: (hint: read the method/methodology) ___________________________________________________________________________

Findings: (hint: read results section) _____________________________________________

Conclusions: (hint: may also be called the discussion section). __________________________________________________________________________

Important to other scholars in the field because: __________________________________________________________________________

NOW, put the above all together into an annotation.


In (year), (Author’s last names) conducted a study about (topic of research). The participants were/the setting was (” San Diego” or “large gift donors”.) The authors found (results or findings of the research.) The authors concluded that (conclusion.) These results/findings are important to other scholars in the field because (reason or reasons why other scholars could benefit from the findings.) 

A tutorial