See below for information on topics that are likely to come up in class assignments or in your research - peer review (you may be asked to find peer-reviewed articles, sometimes called scholarly articles); citing sources (citation managers can make generating a bibliography much easier!), and evaluating sources.
How to read a journal article
Skim the Abstract to confirm that the article is relevant to your topic or research need - if not, find another article
Before you read, think about why and how the article relates to your class material or research topic. What do you hope to gain from reading the article, and how might it relate to what you already know about the topic? Having questions in mind can help you stay more engaged while reading.
If the article contains scientific terms or jargon that you are unfamiliar with, be ready to look up words in a textbook or online.
Read the article sections out of order, and don’t be afraid to skim sections. Reading the Introduction and Conclusion first can help you learn the context and significance of the research. When reading Results, start by skimming for headings and main points and looking at the figures and images. The Methods section may be important if the article relates to your research topic, but less so if you’re reading the article for a class. The Discussion section helps you understand the nuances of the results and can point you to other papers on similar topics.
Annotating or summarizing the article and its main points may be more useful than using lots of highlighting or underlining.
When you encounter any kind of source, consider: