HOW TO READ A
DAYTONA STATE COLLEGE LIBRARY
TYPES OF SCHOLARLY ARTICLES
• Not every article in a scholarly, peer-reviewed
journal is a research article. There are several other
types you may encounter:
• News, book reviews, opinion/editorials, letters to the editor
• Theoretical articles, relating to abstract principles – do not
contain original research
• Review articles – summaries of the current research in a
field, but not considered to be research articles themselves
• Case studies – reports of unusual cases the authors have
encountered, not considered to be research
• None of these should be used for assignments if
your instructor requires that your sources consist of
WHAT IS A RESEARCH ARTICLE?
• A research article reports on the results of a study or
experiment. It is written by the person or people
who did the research. It is new, original work that
has not been done before.
• Look for these words in the title and abstract:
THE PARTS OF A RESEARCH ARTICLE
• Research articles are almost always laid out in a
Review of the literature
The research question
Materials and methods
Directions for further research
• The abstract is a summary of the article.
• It will always appear immediately after the title and
list of authors.
• The abstract will give you enough information to
determine whether you want to use this article as a
• The introduction will describe the problem and give
the background information that led to the current
• It often will mention similar studies, which may also
be useful to you as sources.
THE LITERATURE REVIEW
• In this section, the authors review other studies that
have contributed to knowledge in the same
• It gives the reader a summary of other research
findings and the current state of understanding of
the topic, including areas of incomplete data and
questions that remain.
THE RESEARCH QUESTION
• The authors explain their hypothesis – the question
they were trying to answer with the study they have
• They should be doing something new, not simply
copying what someone else has already done.
• The authors may predict what they think they will
find, and will test their hypothesis to see if it is true.
MATERIALS AND METHODS I
• This section gives the details of the experiment:
• How it was conducted
• What techniques were used
• What subjects were studied
• Human or animal?
• Cells, molecules or a computer model?
• How many people, animals or cells were included in the
• The larger the number of study subjects, the more valid the
• The type of study
• Randomized, double-blind, active vs. standard therapy,
MATERIALS AND METHODS II
• In this section you should note:
The sample size
The population from which the sample is drawn
How well the sample represents the population
The response rate of the sample
• If the participants were given a survey, how many of them
turned it in?
• If the participants were in a treatment group, how compliant
• The descriptive statistics used to describe the sample
• The measures used – how they measured and defined their
• This section presents the study’s findings, often using
graphs and statistical tables to illustrate.
• You will see statistical terms such as:
• Mean – the average value of the responses
• Standard deviation – how the variables are distributed
around the mean. A larger number means the responses
are more spread out: they deviate more from the mean.
• P-value – a measure of how trustworthy the results are. A pvalue will tell you whether the results are considered
statistically significant. When p < .05, it means there is a 95%
chance that the differences in the study groups were due
to the manipulations of the study, and not due to chance.
• This section puts the findings into context. What
does it all mean?
What did the authors find?
How do their results differ from those of other studies?
Why might the results differ?
How can the results be applied to practice?
What were the limitations of the study?
What remains to be learned?
• At the end of the article, the authors will give
citations for the references that they used.
• You may be able to find sources for your own
research within this list.
• Contact the Daytona State College librarians by:
• Phone: (386)506-3518
• In person:
• Daytona campus – Building 210, second floor
• DeLand campus – Building 1
• Email: Use the Ask A Librarian email link on the library home
page - http://www.daytonastate.edu/library/
• Dunifon, R. (2005). How to read a research article.
• American Association for Cancer Research. (2013).
How to read and assess research articles. In
Tools for Understanding: Scientific Journal
Articles. Retrieved from