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Research Toolkit: Quickly Read an Article or Book

 Related Guides: Quickly Evaluate an Article, Quickly Evaluate a Book

 

 

Quickly Read an Article


 

 

Steps to selecting a peer reviewed article for your research:

  • What information do you need?
  • What is the purpose of the article? Who is the audience?
  • How does the article relate to your research topic?
  • What do you expect to learn from this article?
  • What information will this article provide for your thesis statement or research needs?

Steps to scanning a peer reviewed article to determine the main idea:

  • Read the title. Read the abstract of the article, which provides a summary of the findings.
  • Read the introduction of the article, which includes information about the research topic, and may include a literature review.
  • Review graphs, charts and illustrations
  • Read the discussion section
  • Read the conclusion

All these areas tell us a lot about the article, without reading through the entire article.

Avoid difficult articles - if you do not understand sections as you skim, then move on to an article that you do understand.

Suggestions:

  • Use a dictionary to learn the definitions of terms in the article.
  • Look through the literature review section to find other research articles.
  • Consult the reference and bibliography sections to find other relevant resources.

Quickly Read a Book


 

 

Steps to selecting a book for your research:

  1. Read the title
  2. Review the table of contents. Identify chapters about your research topic.
  3. Give your book a quick overview. 
    • Who is the author? Review the author biography at the beginning of the book or the back cover. Is the author an expert in the field?
    • Read the preface of the book.
    • Go over the summary or concluding chapter at the end of the book
    • Look for a book review about the book, which will highlight any controversies about the book.
  4. When reading the chapters that you need, make sure you understand the argument presented.
    • Review the subheadings in the body of relevant chapters
    • Read the opening and closing portions of relevant chapters
    • What is the author saying?
    • What point of view is the author expressing? Can you detect any biases?
    • Is the author exploring the issue thoroughly, or is there information missing?
    • Is the evidence presented fairly in the chapter? Is there enough evidence? Does the evidence support the author's case? Could you make other arguments?
    • How does the author's point of view compare or contrast with other readings?
  5. Look through the index at the back of the book. If a book covers a broad topic, use the index to find specific information. Be aware of the following:
    • Indexes sometimes require you to look up a subject many times. Learn to use the index and the table of contents together to speed up your research.
    • Indexes sometimes place the subject out of context.