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Doctoral Research & Writing Guide

Video: How to Read a Scholarly Article

How to Read a Scholarly Article

What Does it Mean to Read Carefully?

Careful reading requires knowing what to look for in research articles. Every article consists of some core components that you'll need to identify. Once you can identify these components, you can start to make claims about individual researchers and broader trends in the research.

Franklin University has identified six core components of original research (See the Core Components of a Scholarly Article box below).

What Does it Mean to Read Critically?

After you've identified the core components, you are ready to critically read the research. Critical reading involves three major steps: Summary, Evaluation, and Reflection.

Summary: To summarize you should provide a snapshot of the major components of a scholarly article.  

Evaluate: To evaluate you should identify what the research does well and the limitations of the research. 

Reflection: To reflect you should consider how one or more of these components are relevant to your own research.

As you are reading scholarly articles, compare the different studies and look for patterns:

  • Are you noticing any pattern in the findings (any agreement and/or debate on particular facts)?
  • Do you notice any patterns in the methods used (any changes in methods over time)?
  • Have you noticed researchers making calls for similar future research (pattern of implications)?

Core Components of a Scholarly Article

All research articles have the following features: 

  • A focus. Researchers say, “this is what I’m interested in.”  

  • A rationale. Researchers say, “this is why this work ought to be done.” 

  • A scholarly context. Researchers say, “this is what others have done on my topic so far” 

  • A method. Researchers say, “This is how I’m going to study what I’m interested in”  

  • A set of findings. Researchers say, “This is what I discovered after I did my research, and here’s what I have to say about it” 

  • A set of implications. Researchers say, “Here is what my research means for all us going forward”

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