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SCI/IDS 225: Women in Science

SCI/IDS 225: Women in Science, Olga Michels, S-Term 2020

Reading Scholarly Books & Articles

Reading academic or scholarly literature can be a daunting task.

Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to read thoroughly and take notes. Be patient with yourself - it takes practice! Here are some good steps to follow when reading a book or research article:


article under a magnifying glass1. Read the introduction or abstract.

 This will allow you to get a framework before you dive into it. Understanding the purpose of the work will help guide you as you read it. 

2. Skim the table of contents, most relevant chapters.

This allows you to get the gist of the work and get familiar with the topic. 

3. Take notes.

Read the work again - this time in a more focused way - and take notes. Highlight key points and jot down any questions.

4. Identify & summarize key info.

What are the key findings? How did they prove this? Does the proof add up to the conclusions? Were there limitations? Are there lingering questions? What are the implications for further research?

5. Check the sources.

Who does the author cite? Are they relevant to your topic? You can look up an article's citations and utilize that research as well.

Assessing Authority

Consider the following questions about the credibility and authority of a source. 


  • Who wrote it? What could their biases and affiliations be?
  • What qualifications does the author have to write on this topic?
  • What kind of source is it? A book? A newspaper article?
  • What claims does the source make? What is its argument or thesis?
  • Where was it published? In an encyclopedia? A journal? Online?
  • Where is the author based?
  • When was it written, and what time frame does it cover?
  • Does it matter if the two are different?
  • How does the author present their argument? Does their methodology seem sound?
  • Why did the author write it?
  • Why might it be useful to my own argument or research questions?

Don't forget to consider the context and nature of your own research project.

How does your specific context affect these questions? Are some of these questions more important to you than others? Do some of the answers matter less than the others?

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