Reading Scholarly Articles
Do you know how to read an article methodically and efficiently? It's not necessary to read an article from beginning to end. Starting with the title, abstract and conclusion can help you decide if an article is worth your time. This flow chart can help you decide if you should read an article based on those sections.
Subramanyam, R. (2013). Art of reading a journal article: Methodically and effectively. Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology : JOMFP, 17(1), 65–70. http://doi.org/10.4103/0973-029X.110733
Once you have decided to read the article, there are certain details that you should look for so that you optimize your comprehension of the article. Use the questionnaire below to guide your reading and note taking.
Should provide a proper background for the study.
Is there a research hypothesis? Later determine if it was answered in the Discussion.
Materials and Methods
Were the procedures and equipment used for data collection appropriate?
Were the results reliable and valid?
Did any subjects drop out of the study? If yes, is an explanation given?
Determine which results are statistically significant and which are not.
Were appropriate statistical tests used?
Are statistically significant results also clinically significant?
What was the final answer to the research question?
How did the authors interpret the results and their analyses?
Did this study lead to new theories or hypotheses, and suggestions for future research?
What did the authors identify as the shortcomings or limitations of the study?
Did the authors compare/contrast their study with similar studies?
Note, the discussion of results is ultimately an opinion and not automatically fact.
Were the inferences that you made at the beginning correct?
If the conclusion didn’t make sense at first, does it make more sense after having read the entire article?
Adapted from Subramanyam, R. (2013). Art of reading a journal article: Methodically and effectively. Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology : JOMFP, 17(1), 65–70. http://doi.org/10.4103/0973-029X.110733