Skip to main content

EDUC 341 - Sturtevant: 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 . . . 


Scholarly Article - Primary Research - What does it contain?

Finding a current primary research article about your chosen research focus will give your paper validity. Your primary research article should be no older than 5 years old.  Here are some ways to identify primary research:

Opening matter The credentials of the researchers, the title; is it a review or meta-study?
Research Question Primary research will ask a question, state a hypothesis or goal.
Experimental Methods The experimental design must be described such that it could be replicated.
Results What were the results of the study/experiment.
Conclusions What conclusions can be made from the results, what are the implications, areas for further study?
Documentation Do the researchers cite the work of others?

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