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Polymer Chemistry 9871:601: Reading Research Articles

A guide to reading chemistry articles

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Strategies for Reading a Scholarly Article

Reading Research Articles

Research or scholarly articles have a formal structure that allows you to focus your attention to specific sections to get a good sense of the purpose and results of the study without being buried in too much technical detail. Follow the tips below to read the research articles that you find to see if they are relevant to your topic.

Tip 1: Do not read the article from start to finish as you would a popular article.

Tip 2: Do focus your attention on the following sections in order:

Abstract

  • This section provides you an overview of the study.
  • It will give you a sense of the purpose and some of the results. 

Introduction

  • On your first reading, skim the introduction to get a sense of the purpose of the study.
  • If the study is important to your research, re-read the introduction to find other articles and studies that may be helpful.

Discussion / Results

  • Carefully read this section as it explains what was found as a result of the study.
  • Pay attention to graphs, tables, figures, structures, plots, and diagrams.
  • If the study is relevant to your research and the findings are of interest, you may need to go back and carefully read the methodology to understand how the results were gathered.