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Advanced Research & Doctoral Dissertation

Reading Articles

Now that you have found some relevant articles, it is time to start reading!  I have found that reading academic articles is a bit of an art form.  When I was doing my dissertation research, I just couldn't read an article from top to bottom - it scrambled my brain.

This is the order in which I would read an article's sections: 

  1. Abstract & Introduction | Summary overview
  2. Conclusion | Spoil the ending (it's totally okay!) Note the main takeaways and themes
  3. Methods | How did they arrive at their conclusions? Anything sketchy?
  4. Lit Review | Skim for other interesting articles** 

Again, I strongly suggest capturing your thoughts immediately as you examine each article.  Some researchers prefer to print up the articles and do their note taking by hand - often using visual systems of color coded post-it notes, flags, highlighters, etc.  I personally used the spreadsheet method that we already touched on, but I can't stress enough how your system needs to work for you!

**Before we move on, let's briefly touch on the literature review section of journal articles.  Often the lit review section has really good background information that is conveniently and concisely worded.  However, I would not recommend that you cite the lit review section of an article, as that is secondary or second hand information.  We never want to quote a quote - it's your responsibility as a researcher to examine the primary evidence first hand and form your own thoughts - don't just take another researcher's word for it! That's not to say that the lit review isn't helpful - I tend to use it more to identify other articles of interest rather than citing it directly. 


Reading Articles - Abstract & Introduction
Reading Articles - Findings & Conclusions
Reading Articles - Findings & Conclusions
Reading Articles - Methodology
Reading Articles - Literature Review
Reading Articles - Works Cited

The annotated images above were excerpted from: 

Salaz, A. M., MacGregor, T., & Thomas, P. (2016, October). Novice and expert information behavior: An eye tracking study from Qatar. In European Conference on Information Literacy (pp. 364-372). Springer, Cham.