Information contained in a typical research article:
Abstract: This brief paragraph provides an overview of the entire article.
Introduction: This section introduces the topic or the research question being posed and discusses how the study complements or contributes to previous research and literature in the field.
Methods: This section includes a description of how the study was conducted.
Analysis and Results: This section discusses the results of the study or experiment and how the results were analyzed.
Discussion and Conclusion: This final section interprets the results of the study and the research question posed. It will outline how the study contributes to the existing field of knowledge and possible directions for further research.
References/Bibliography: This section lists all the publications cited within the article.
Tips on how to read a scholarly article:
Step 1. Read the abstract first. The abstract describes the topic of the article, the research question posed, the results and conclusions of the study. The abstract will help you decide if you wish to read the entire article.
Step 2. Skim the introduction and discussion/conclusion sections to familarize yourself with the main arguments, research results and conclusions. With this basic understanding of the information provided, decide if you wish to pursue an in depth reading of the article.
Step 3. Carefully read each section in depth. Take notes and clarify any terminology or concepts you do not understand. Identify the key information presented in the article and how it may apply to your own paper or assignment.
In many cases, students have not yet developed this expertise and can find the material confusing and difficult to read. Don't get discouraged. Over time, you will have gathered more knowledge about health topics through your courses and you will become more experienced at reading journal articles.
Review each section of the sample peer reviewed article below. Mouse over each highlighted section and read the content displayed. Image used with permission from American University Library.
Ayalon, O., Goldrath, T., Rosenthal, G., & Grossman, M. (2009). Reduction of plastic carrier bag use: An analysis of alternatives in israel. Waste Management, 29(7), 2025-2032. doi:10.1016/j.wasman.2009.02.016