Reading a journal article
Scanning an article
You should scan an article when looking for a table, chart or diagram, or looking for the answer to a question.
- Many articles will have an abstract and list of keywords at the beginning of the article, so read these sections to see if your keywords or concepts are in them. If it is, continue scanning the document. If it is not, try another keyword.
- Scan the introduction and conclusion.
- Scan the headings e.g. methodological section, etc.
- If you find a section of text containing your keyword or concept read a couple of sentences before and after it.
Skimming an article
If you are skimming a shorter selection, such as an article, you would spend less time on your preview. You might:
- read the first and last paragraphs
- read the headings
- read perhaps a sentence or two under each heading
- glance over the rest of each of the paragraph
- look at graphs and illustrations
You may encounter selections in which the headings give little information; in such cases, you might need to read the first sentence of every paragraph. As in previewing a book, you should always be alert to typographical aids, illustrations and captions. Often an author will end a selection or chapter with a summary.
Reading an article in depth
If you are reading a PDF, you can use PDF annotation software to add notes directly to the file.