Brandel Library

CTS 3200 Mediation

How to Read and Annotate a Scholarly Article

Overview of reading scholarly sources

When you first start reading scholarly articles, it will feel challenging. Don't let this stop you from reading them! The secret is that you do not need to understand every single word--even your professors probably don't understand every single word. Instead, when you are reading, focus on finding answers to these four questions: 

  • What research questions is the author trying to answer? 
  • What did they do to answer the questions? 
  • What answers did they find to their questions? 
  • Why does it matter?

Typical Article Structure

 

Section What to Look for
Introduction
  • What is the main contribution this study makes to the literature on this topic (you can also look to the conclusion for this)?
  • Is this going to be relevant to your project?
Literature Review (sometimes also called "Theoretical Framework")
  • What are the major themes the author has identified in the literature as being pertinent to their topic?
  • Are there any sources cited here that could be useful for your research?
  • How does the author see their research question fitting in to the rest of this literature?
Methods
  • What is the researcher's method of answering the research question? (e.g., qualitative, quantitative)
  • What are the variables being measured/analyzed?
  • Where is the data coming from?
Results
  • Based on their analysis of the data, what answers to their research questions did the authors find?
Discussion
  • How do the results of this study fit in with the results of other studies on this topic? 
  • What are the key takeaways from this study?
Conclusion
  • What is the main contribution this study makes to the literature on this topic (you can also look to the introduction for this)?
  • What are some questions left unanswered?