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MGCS 5001 - Understanding China, 1700-2000: A Data-Analytic Approach: How to Read Research Articles

How to Read a Research Article

How to Read a Research article  - from  Babbie (2010) Chapter 17  

Not like a novel or a story or a newspaper article

1. Abstract first

  • Helps you decide if you want to read the whole thing)
  • Gives you a framework for reading the rest – preps you


  • Note headings&  look for graphs & tables
  • Pay close attention to *methods* and *conclusion*

3.Carefully read the whole thing & take notes


  • Anything new pop out? New ideas? New connections?

Try: Meet with your some classmates; each describe & explain one article you read in 5 or 6 minutes.

Useful Videos

Some helpful videos (try one)


Reading Books for Review

Not like a novel or popular non-fiction

1. Skim the book  & note:

  • topic
  • style
  • general reasoning
  • data
  • bibliographical references

2. Survey the parts

  • Glance at table of contents & take a brief look at some of the chapters
  • Try to identify the key chapters

3. Start to read

  • Skim & then read the Introduction & preface & try to identify ideas, aims, & logic of the work
  • Look for headings in the intro and preface - if there is an "overview" read that

4.  Read the parts of the chapters you identified as important

  • You don't have to read the whole book from start to finish
  • Look for theories & methodologies
  • Take notes - not just what the author says, but questions or ideas you may have about what the author writes

(Hart, 1998, p. 52)

Hart, Chris. Chapter 3, Classifying and Reading Research. In: Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination. London: Sage, 1998, p. 44-78.  (HKUST Library H62 .H2566 1998)

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