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Humanities 101 - Flathers

Reading a Scholarly Article in the Humanities

Most scientific scholarly articles have pretty clear sections. This makes it easier to skim them for relevant information without having to read the whole thing closely (unless you want to!). These are:

  • An abstract (summary of the article)
  • Introduction
  • Literature review (what have other authors said?)
  • Methods (How did the authors do their research?)
  • Results (What did they find?)
  • Discussion/Conclusion (What do the results mean?)

But surprise! Articles in the Humanities often do not have clear sections, making it difficult to skim them for information. So what should you do instead? Let's look at an example.

This article doesn't have any sections! So what do you do?

  1. Read the first couple of paragraphs. The author should note their main thesis statement.
  2. Once you have their main thesis statement (or couple of main sentences), think about how this related to your paper or research.
  3. Skim through the article. Read the first sentence of most of the paragraphs. Also, look for keywords. If you are doing a study guide about The Frogs, look for The Frogs!
  4. If you see anything relevant, STOP! Read the whole paragraph and those surrounding it.
  5. Read the last page or two of the article. The author will sum up their main points and conclusions.
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