Tips for Reading a Research Paper
"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them," stated Mark Twain. This is true especially for graduate students who must have the ability to read and comprehend the research they find. They must be able to read and then determine how this affects their topic or not. It is important for students to analyze what they have read. One of the most important parts of a custom dissertation is the annotated bibliography which requires a lot of reading, and then writing summaries.
The first step students should take in reading the article or book is to read the article critically as you analyze what you are reading. It is important to determine what the problem is and how the authors are trying to solve it. Skim over the article looking for the purpose of the article of book. Ask yourself: What is the thesis of the article? What are the main points? What is the hypothesis? How will this article contribute to the chosen research topic?
Always keep notes on where you got the information such as the title of the article or book, authors, place of publications, dates, etc. A solution to keeping track of this type of information is to get an index box with index cards (bibliography box). Write all this information on this card. Take another index box and put into quotations into it. Always have numbers on the cards relating back to the bibliography box.
Read the introduction of the article. Why has the author chosen to write this article or book? What background does the author have in relations to the topic? Has he written previous articles and books on the topic? Review the introduction for information that relates to your research paper topic.
The next section of the article is methodology. Read this asking yourself these questions: What types of research design did the author used? Were there surveys, experiments, or observations? What types of material did they use for the research? What was important about the methodology and how it relates to your research topic?
The next section is results. This shows what the authors found during their research and why it is important.
The final section is discussion which is one of the most important parts of any journal article. This section should answer questions such as whether the hypotheses were supported. What were the implications of the findings? How did these relate to your topic? Why did the author believe his/her article was important? Do the students agree with the author? Were there problems in their research methods? How did these affect the article and research problem? How did the author evaluate his work?
Some tips for reading the article:
- Read the title. What ideas does the title give? Why is the title important?
- Read the abstract. Begin to think about what the author's purpose in writing the article. What do students expect the article will say when you read it? Sometimes reading the abstract gives you an idea of whether the article is related to your topic or not. If it is not related, then go on to another article.
- Read each section of the research paper. Highlight any important ideas. Sometimes reading the introduction and the conclusion first gives an idea of how the author handled the topic.
Reading is one of the most important parts of research and custom research paper writing. Knowing tips and suggestions for reading articles is important in helping students to prepare the annotated bibliography and as part of their dissertation.