Have you ever read a page in a book and then realized you don't know what it said? Reading as a scholarly researcher is about more than just comprehending the main ideas. You must engage critically with the source, and respond to it as you read, take notes, and write. You will use these sources to strengthen and support your voice as an active participant in the scholarly conversation.
Unfamiliar with scholarly, peer-reviewed articles? View the Anatomy of a Scholarly Article to learn how most articles are organized.
- As you read, ask yourself:
- How does this article/item contribute to my overall project?
- What are its flaws, weaknesses, gaps?
- What are its strengths, values, and contributions to the field?
- What evidence did the author use?
- What are the main themes?
- What are the connections between the themes?
- How do your sources connect to each other? Where do they overlap or contradict each other?
- Capella's Online Writing Center has many helpful resources:
- Reading Strategies
- Critically Reading of Primary and Secondary Sources from the Writing Handbook
- Reading Chart
- Strategies for Writing for Secondary Sources
Do you have everything you need?
This is often the point in the process where you realize you do not have all of the information you need. After reading your articles you may have realized that one or two of them are not useful for your topic, or you may recognize some gaps in your research.
Do you need to conduct additional research? If so, begin an abbreviated search. Identify what gaps you have. Limit the amount of time you plan to spend on research, and search for only those items—do not let yourself get caught up in the discovery process. If you need help constructing a narrow search, Ask a Librarian.