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How to Read a Scholarly Article

A guide to help students and new researchers to understanding the parts of a scholarly article.

The "Reverse Oreo" Strategy

Everyone is familiar with Oreo cookies – dry crumbly cookies around a delicious middle.

 

                             oreo cookies

 

Scholarly articles are structured in the reverse of an Oreo, meaning that the “good stuff” is on the outside: the Abstract, Introduction, the Discussion, and the Conclusion. These sections are usually in simpler, more direct language, and speak clearly to the purpose of the study, what the results were, and what the implications of the findings might be.

The “dry stuff” is on the inside of the article – the Methodology and the Results. A key point of the scientific method is that results must be able to be repeated to be considered valid, so the Methodology section shows exactly how the study might be reproduced, but sheds little light on the “big picture” (unless you’re actually going to replicate the experiment).

The statistical analyses in the Results are important, but is just the math verifying the significance of the results.

SO - Read the Introduction, Discussion and Conclusion first. Skip the middle sections (Methodology and Results) until you have a handle on the purpose and findings of the study. Then go back and re-read the article with these sections. Now that you know what the researchers were trying to find out, the data, charts, and graphs will make more sense.


To cite this LibGuide use the following templates:

APA: Northern Essex Community College Library. (Date updated). Title of page. Title of LibGuide. URL

MLA: Northern Essex Community College Library. "Title of Page." Title of LibGuide, Date updated, URL.