submitted by weekend librarian Marg Baltzer

I have to read all these journal articles for my paper! How will I get through all them? What is the point of all those details?

Reading journal articles is a learned skill. You do not read a journal article like you would a book or a magazine article. Each section has a specific purpose and it is important to know the purpose of each before you embark on this new adventure!

The other thing to keep in mind while you are reading these articles is to view the content of the article as a means of dialogue between experts in the field. The author introduces the reader to what research has already been done in the past (and credits those researchers!); the author then introduces the reader to his/her research topic and explains why and how it was completed. The results of the research are presented and then these results are integrated into the context of previous research. The author then explains why these results are important and presents possible topics for further research. With this in mind, it is easier to understand the purpose and importance of this type of publication. Each article is one person/group’s voice in a bigger conversation.

The following links and resources will illustrate those differences between the different sections of the research article and why each is important.

How to Read a Scholarly Journal Article

Understanding Scholarly Journal Articles

In the Sciences… In the Humanities…
How to read a scientific paper

How to read and interpret different kinds of research articles

Simple method for evaluating clinical research

The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a
Journal-Style Scientific Paper


How to read a journal article

How to read a journal

Reading…for History: A Guide for College Students (in the left column there are 2 links for reading primary and secondary sources)