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Research 101

What we will learn:

On this page we will learn:

  • Techniques to make use of dense academic articles
  • Notetaking tips to pick out key information and reflect on the information

Make Use of Scholarly Articles

Scholarly articles are great sources of information when you want the latest research findings, straight from the experts studying it. These articles are written for other experts in the field, so they will be very dense and written with lots of technical jargon. Don't let that scare you away though. With some reading strategies, some patience, and some practice you can make use of the information packed into scholarly articles.

Identify Key Information on First Page of Articles

When you first encounter a scholarly article, your first task is to make sure it fits your need. Use the first page to make this call.

The first page also has all the information you will need to create your citations. This interactive image shows how to identify key information when looking at a scholarly article.

Parts of a Scholarly Article

Most scholarly articles follow a common format to organize their information. This common format will help you know what to expect from each section and to jump to the section that has the most useful information for your needs.

Image shows examples of major sections of scientific article

Image from How to Read a Scientific Paper by Michael Fosmire of Purdue University. CC BY-NC-SA

Transcribed text from the above image: Anatomy of a Scientific Article.
Title: Are all apples red?
By: Ida Cortland.
Abstract: We examined several apples' color. Although most are red, some are not. 
Introduction: An age old question is: are all apples red? MacIntosh (1993) thought so. G. Smith (1999) begs to differ. We hope to resolve this issue once and for all.
Methods: We went to the local grocery store and bought one of every apple they had. We took them home and looked at them. 
Results: We found four red apples, one green apple, and two yellow apples.
Discussion: Since we found two yellow apples and one green apple, it must be true that all apples are not red. We concur with G. Smith's findings.
References:
MacIntosh (1993) Journal of Fruit Science. 4(3): 121-135.
Smith, G. (1999) Apple Technology Today. 7(3):4-8.

Video: How to Read a Scholarly Journal Article

Notetaking

So we have found some articles and books and now know how to read them, but how do we take what we read and put in into our paper? Taking notes is the step between reading and writing. If we have taken good notes, then when it comes time to write our paper, we can quickly remember and find what information to use. 

In the video below we will see a strategy for annotating an article (in this case, annotating is a fancy way to say "taking notes"). 

Another note taking tool that can help us move from reading to writing our papers is a research reading log. Here are a couple examples. 

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