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BILD 38: Aging/Dementia/Neuroscience/Society: Read Journal Articles

Anatomy of a primary paper

Abstract: summary of the article

Introduction: background information and a description of the author’s purpose  

Materials & Methods: how the study was performed with enough detail so that other scientists could repeat the study  

Results: includes new observations, data and findings 

Discussion: a description of what the findings mean and their implications; address potential criticisms

Note taking

There is no right way to take notes. You should find the method that works best for you. If you are unfamilar with note-taking methods, these are good places to start.

Reading a paper

These books offer great tips on how to read a scholarly article.

Understanding a schlolarly article

First, skim the article. Read the abstract and skim the Introduction and Discussion.

Second, read and take notes. If you think the article will support your topic, then read the entire article. Be sure to take good notes (see Tips to the left).

You should be able to answer the following questions about the article in a short paragrah.

    1. How does the research fit in with what was previously known?
    2. In your own words, what is the author’s hypothesis?
    3. How was the study designed?
    4. Were the figures useful? Why or why not?
    5. What were the author’s conclusions?
    6. How is the study relevant?
    7. Who does the author represent? How was the study funded?
    Need more help understaning scholarly articles? Check out this page.