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Module 3: Understanding Sources: Scholarly Articles

About Journals & Magazines

Components of Scholarly Articles

Reading Actively

There are many ways to read actively—find what works best for your research process:

  • Read with a pen, pencil, highlighter, sticky flags, or post-its in hand.  Limit yourself to marking one place per page.
  • Read for the thesis: what is the author arguing?  Flag it.  Sometimes the author will tell you explicitly (e.g. “My purpose is…” “The purpose of this article is…” or “I argue…”).  Note: the argument is called different things depending on discipline:
    • Psychology: purpose statement
    • Sciences: hypothesis (also see results—was hypothesis proved or disproved?)
    • Education: objective
    • Humanities: thesis or argument
  • Write a 30-second summary right after you finish reading article/chapter.
  • Use active verbs like “argue,” “shows,” “questions,” “explores” when you write your summaries (e.g. This article argues Edna ultimately surrenders to Creole culture.”)
  • Break down the article into its pieces: thesis, subclaims, evidence.  Do a reverse outline if this is difficult. [[attach thesis organizer template]]
  • Use focused questions to get at the main components of the text:
    • What is the thing/text you are examining?
    • Who made/wrote it?
    • What is the title?
    • Where was it published/made?
    • Who published/made it?
    • When was it published? (Is this the first edition?)
    • Where did you find it?

Reading Scholarship

In this tutorial learn the "best practices" for reading a scholarly journal article.

Summary Template

Rhetorical Précis Template

A rhetorical précis differs from a summary in that it is a less neutral, more analytical condensation of both the content and method of the original text. The rhetorical précis is a brief representation of what a text both says and does. Use the template (below) to create a rhetorical précis.