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ENGL 20 Intro to Rhetoric

Tips for Reading Scholarly Articles

Academics or scholars write in various genres, but perhaps the best known is that of the scholarly journal article. The common purpose of academic writing is to convey information and persuade readers to agree with the author's interpretation or findings. A single article on a topic is part of a longer conversation around that topic by many scholars over time. 

A scholarly journal article has familiar elements common to most of the disciplines. Knowing these elements and the familiar "plot" of a scholarly article or book can help you to read and understand academic texts efficiently and effectively. When reading a scholarly article:

  • Consider reading the author's conclusion first, and then the context (introduction, literature review) second
  • Third, read the methods and results when (if) you're ready to analyze and evaluate the author's work.
Scholarly Patterns handout (PDF)

Outlines the components of academic writing in the social sciences, as well as the common features of the literature review section.

However, scholarly articles in the Arts and Humanities are structured differently than other disciplines in that they resemble essays. These scholars are not conducting experiments or studies but rather are making logical arguments based on the evidence they have researched and analyzed.