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How To: Academic Research

Use the tabs below to explore the different aspects of conducting academic research.

How to Read Research Articles

Finding relevant research articles and evaluating their content can be intimidating, especially when you need to find a number of sources in a short period of time. Reading the every single article from start to finish is not generally the best approach when conducting research.

  • Start by checking the subject listings and article description.
    Oftentimes, this will let you eliminate unnecessary articles quickly without needing to access the article itself.

  • Read the abstract.
    Abstracts give you basic information about what is contained in the article. If the abstract indicates that the article is relevant to your research, it is worth exploring further. 

  • Read the introduction and conclusion (sometimes referred to as the discussion).
    These sections give a more detailed summary than the abstract and cover the purpose of the article and the findings of the research. 

  • Skim the article with a critical eye. 
    Once you have skimmed the article and have determined it is something useful to your research, only then go back and read the sections that are left. Look for names, dates, terms, and claims to decide if the information is useful for your purposes.

  • Read the full article (or the rest of the article, as needed)
    In scientific research articles, the methods and results sections contain the information needed to determine if their research is based on appropriate scientific procedures and if there are any potential issues with the results due to bias or factors not being taken into account. 

Find a way to take notes of concepts, quotes, and ideas that you want to include: post-it flags, highlighters, note taking in the margins, or making a list are all options that you may want to try. When taking notes, be sure to indicate if you are quoting or paraphrasing and write down the page number(s) so you don't forget and accidentally plagiarize. For more information about avoiding plagiarism and citing sources, please see the Citation & Style Guides

Tutorials: Tips and Tricks

Learning Strategies: Notetaking (Academic Skills Center, Dartmouth College)

Tutorial: How to Read and Comprehend Scientific Research Articles (UMN Libraries)