Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

SOCW 2361 Introduction to Social Work: Reading Sources

Best Practice for Reading Academic Articles

Read in 3 passes

Pass 1

Get a sense of the framework and major conclusions; underline unfamiliar words, methods, and concepts; evaluate the quality of the study

  • Skim through
    • Abstract
    • Intro
    • Section headings
    • Tables, diagrams, & captions
    • Conclusion
  • Ask
    • What is the thesis of the paper?
    • What are the main arguments?
    • Why is this paper important?
    • How does it contribute to the field?
    • What questions do I still have about the study or its findings?
  • Summarize – 1-2 sentences what the paper is about

Pass 2

Scan the full text of the article, getting a better sense of the research conducted

  • Pay closer attention to beginning and ending of each section
  • Pay attention to highlighted sections from first pass and look up elements you’re not familiar with
  • Answer all questions you had about the paper

Pass 3

Reflect on and analyze the paper (this analysis can often be used in your own paper)

  • Take another look at
    • Arguments
    • Evidence
    • Conclusions
    • Methodology
  • Take notes in your own words
  • Answer
    • Did the authors do what they set out to do?
    • Are their methods sound?
    • Are their arguments logical?
    • What assumptions did they make?

Takes notes as you read!

Use this template as you read through scholarly articles to help you pick out the relevant elements for your paper.