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How to Read a Scholarly Article

Tips for reading academic articles and books like a pro.

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article - Sciences & Social Sciences

The image below links to a tutorial developed by colleagues at the North Carolina State University Libraries. Use this tutorial to explore the typical parts of a scholarly article.

Link to interactive "Anatomy of a Scholarly Article" presented by North Carolina State University Libraries

Outline of Scholarly Writing - Sciences & Social Sciences

With some variation among the different disciplines, most scholarly articles of original research follow the IMRD model, which consists of the following components:

Introduction

  • Literature Review
  • Statement of Problem (i.e. "the Gap")
  • Plan to Solve the Problem

Method & Results

  • How Research was Done
  • Data
  • What Answers were Found

Discussion

  • Interpretation of Results
    (What Does It Mean?)
  • Implications for the Field

This form is most obvious in scientific studies, where the methods are clearly defined and described, and data is often presented in tables or graphs for analysis.

In other fields, such as history, the method and results may be embedded in a narrative, perhaps describing and interpreting events from archival sources. In this case, the method is the selection of archival sources and how they were interpreted, while the results are the interpretation and resultant story.

In full-length books, you might see this general pattern followed over the entire book, within each chapter, or both.

Picturing Academic Writing

The following handouts provide diagrams of academic writing that may be useful when reading scholarly books and articles:

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