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Reading a Research Article: Home

There are four common parts of a research paper in the sciences and social sciences.

Familiarizing yourself with these four parts will help you know what to expect when reading.Part 1: Introduction. The Introduction will tell you the purpose of the research and the problem being studied. It can include background information for the study likethe Literature Review, and lets you know how the author is situating themselves in the conversation surrounding this topic. Part 2: Methods. The Methods section tells you how the author designed the research. You'll find out if the study is qualitative, quantitative, or a mixture, and learn more about the population being studied. Part 3: Results. The Results section will tell you what the author found out from the study and will include any tables and graphs that the author has included. Part 4: Discussion. Inthe Discussion section, you'll find out what it all means in the larger conversation surrounding this topic. The author will also acknowledge the limitations of the study.Additionally, there are four steps for reading a research article. Follow these steps to help you understand the article you’re reading. Step 1: Read the article's Abstract for a brief summary of the whole article. This will help you understand the basics of the article before you read it. Step 2: Read the Discussion to understand thefindings of the research in more detail. This will give you an overview of what the article covered, and will also tell you why the research is important and what limitations it has. Step 3: Read the Introduction to gain context and understand what partsof the article you should expect to see as you read. Step 4: Read the rest of the article. It will be easier to understand now that you've read the abstract, discussion, and introduction.Check out NC State’s Anatomy of a Scholarly Article or Ask a Librarian if you have any questions.