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Database Search Tips: Reading

Reading, reading, reading!

Whether you are reading assigned articles/book chapters for class or reading through search results in a database, you will be wading through a lot of information. Here are some tips/suggestions for handling all of that information.




You are not reading a novel for pleasure, so don't read linearly--read strategically.

Journal Articles

Reading a scientific journal article is not like reading a book. It does not begin at the beginning and then finish in the end.


Structure of an article

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods/Procedures
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References



  • Should you read/skim the article in order?  Not necessarily.
  • Start with the title and abstract.
  • Look for the main points in the introduction and discussion sections of the article.
  • If there are charts/graphs use that help determine the key points

More Tips:

Subramanyam R. Art of reading a journal article: Methodically and effectively. Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology : JOMFP. 2013;17(1):65-70. doi:10.4103/0973-029X.110733.
Short video from University of Western Ontario outlining a strategy for reading a scholarly article
Tutorial from the University of Indiana
Great tips from other researchers!


Book chapters

Similarly to articles, use the structure of a book chapter (or an entire book) to help determine key points

  • Read the beginning and end for the key points
  • Use the headings to determine the most relevant sections of the chapter
  • Keep an eye out for bullet points, words in bold or graphic information

Take Notes and Stay Organized!

Taking notes will help you process the information

Keep track of the main points

Use EndNote for note taking and organizing your material

  • Annotate/highlight PDFs
  • Use the Research Notes field for each article
  • Use the read/unread button to keep track of what you have thoroughly read
  • Use the Star system to rank the importance of your articles in EndNote
  • Create groups (folders) to organize all of your material. Each record in EndNote can be in multiple groups