Brandel Library

BSE 3520: Principles of Management and Leadership

Reading and Annotating Sources

Typical Article Structure in Business

Section What to Look for
  • What is the research question/main argument the article addresses? 
  • How would this topic be relevant to my research? 
  • Why does this question/argument matter? How is it unique?
Literature Review (note that sometimes this section is included in the introduction and doesn't have its own heading)
  • What have other researchers already discovered about this topic?
  • How does the author see their research question fitting in to the research other scholars have already done?
  • What are the major themes from other scholars' research the author has identified as being pertinent to their topic?
  • Are there any sources cited here that could be useful for your research?
  • 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?
  • Based on their analysis of the data, what answers to their research questions did the authors find?
  • 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?
  • What are the weaknesses of this study? 
  • What is the main contribution this study makes to scholars' understanding of this topic?
  • What are some questions left unanswered?
  • Are there other articles here that are relevant to my topic? 






How to Read a Scholarly Article

Scholarly articles can be a little dense. The key to reading them effectively is to know what you're looking for and where to find it. Here is a step-by-step guide. 

Step 0: If there's an abstract, read it first. It provides an overview of the article. 

Step 1: What is the research question(s)? 

Read the Introduction and the Conclusion to identify the research question and the main point of the article.

Step 2: How did they answer the research question(s)?

Read the Methods section. Focus on the type of data, where it came from, and the size of the sample. 

Step 3: What answer(s) did they find?

Read the Results section. Pay attention to tables and charts. 

Step 4: What is the significance of their findings? 

Read the Discussion section (if there is a separate discussion session). 

Step 5: How do their findings connect with other research on the topic? 

Read the Literature Review. (You'll also find some of these connections in the Discussion section.)