Reading Scholarly Articles

Tim Miller · twm2 · 707.826.4959 · Library 02 (Lower Level)

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What do YOU hope to learn today?


  • what does 'scholarly' mean?
  • how can we find scholarly articles?
  • what is the best way to read & understand these articles?

What does 'scholarly' mean?

  • Written by experts- usually academics or professionals
  • Reflect research (study, literature review, observations)
  • Written in a systematic and scientific manner

Scholarly articles may...

  • Be 'Authoritative'
    • written by scholars or researchers in the field
    • include technical terms and concepts
    • peer-review:
      a peer-reviewed journal article is reviewed by other experts who check to ensure that the information is unbiased, the methodology is sound, and the information included is reliable and valid.
  • Include statistics, graphs, tables
  • Refer to past & future research
    • points of reference
    • new areas to explore

Finding scholarly articles

Database filters limit to:

written by scholars or professionals who are experts in their fields
reviewed and evaluated by other experts

Filters in Ebsco

Filters in ProQuest

Identifying scholarly articles

    Look for:
  • plain format
  • technical jargon- written for readers familiar with the field
  • large number of citations & references
  • structure: abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, conclusion, references
  • little or no advertising

Think about the author

While reading, think about:

  • What is the author's hypothesis/view?
  • What does the abstract indicate?
    • Purpose
    • Methods
    • Conclusions

Think about your needs

    Before you begin reading the article:
  • What do you need from the article?
  • What is the purpose of your paper/presentation?
  • Evidence
    • Background information
    • Support your hypothesis/view
    • Recommendations
    • Conclusions

Structure of a Scholarly Article

…summary of the article
…background & purpose
…how the research was carried out
…the author's findings
…meaning of the results
…the implications
…what the author read


    Skip around
  • You do not need to read EVERYTHING
  • Read what applies to your topic
    Look for useful content
  • Ideas that you might cite
  • Specifics to help you narrow your topic

Example paper:

Try It Out

In small groups, find:

  1. Purpose of the article
  2. Overall conclusions
  3. Findings of their study
  4. Recommendations


Quote - exact language
enclose in quotation marks
cite the source (in-text & reference list)
Paraphrase - your own words
use significantly different language
Cite the source (in-text & reference list)


Avoid Plagiarism
cite every idea you get from someone else
use quotation marks with quotes
make your paraphrasing significantly different from the original author's words
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