1. Know your research question: As you explore resources, your research question may change or evolve; still, you want to maintain a solid research focus.
2. You don't have to read the entire article from beginning to end: Start with the Title and Abstract, which give you the purpose of the article, a small amount of context, and a summary of the findings. After you read these elements, ask yourself:
Do the Title & Abstract help add to your understanding of the topic? Do they provide answers to your research question(s)?
If they don't do any of these things, you should locate a different article. But if they add to your understanding, move on to the Introduction and Conclusion sections of the article. After reading these areas, ask yourself:
What did the authors want to learn; what did they study? (Review the thesis statement, research question, hypothesis)
Next, take a deeper look at the Results section, which includes specific pieces of data, statistics, or examples from the study. Afterwards, move on to the Discussion section, which interprets these results and helps you understand why they're important.
If it takes too much effort to make the article "fit" into your research, set it aside and move on to the next one. After reading the whole article, ask yourself:
How does the article answer my research question(s)?
3. Read the References/Bibliography section: Reading references or works cited may lead you to other critical resources.
4. Annotate the article as you read: Keeping your research question(s) in mind as you annotate (mark up) the article. Paraphrase key information and concepts that can be cited in your research assignment.
5. Read the article at least twice: Scholarly articles are incredibly complex, so definitely read twice to make sure you understand the content.