Journal articles usually have a quite rigid structure that is determined
by the particular journal in which they appear and by the type of research
being reported; this makes extracting information from them sometimes
easier than from less rigid text types. The reporting of empirical research
will mostly follow the format of abstract, introduction, methods, results,
|Abstracts provide a complete overview of what the research
is about, what it did, how it did it, what it found and what those
||Given the function of the abstract, you should read it first to
gain a general understanding about the whole paper/research
|Introductions usually provide a brief review of previous
research, a rationale or reason for the research and an outline
of exactly what it is that the research is aiming to do.
This diagram provides an outline of the sequence of information
presented in the introduction. Knowledge about this structure will
help you to locate relevant information and develop a clearer picture
of what the research is about and why it has been done.
|Method sections do what their titles suggest: describe
the methods used in the research.
|Results sections also do what their titles suggest: describe
the results found.
||You will sometimes find the results and discussion sections are
|Discussion sections provide an interpretation of what the
results actually mean in terms of the field and the original research
question or hypothesis.
||Read the discussion section to understand what the results mean
|Conclusion or General Discussion section will be present
particularly in research papers where the results of several experiments
have been presented and discussed. This section provides a forum
for a holistic discussion of the meaning and implications of the
research. It also details the implications of the research and make
recommendations about further research or policy and practice in
the relevant area.
||Read the conclusion or general discussion section for an understanding
of the key issues resulting from the research.
The journal article sections described above are visible in the example
journal article below. The article has been annotated to highlight the
structure and function of each section. You can use your knowledge of
the structure and function of each section to improve the efficiency of
your reading. Knowing where a certain type of information is located will
reduce the time it takes to locate this information, as well as the time
it takes you to read the article.
Further tips for reading journal articles
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