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HUM 260: Research Methods in the Humanities (Dr. Rodrick)

Questions to Ask While Reading

  • What is the thesis? What is being argued?
  • Is the author:
    • Breaking new ground with a unique take on an old subject or looking at a new subject?
    • Arguing against past interpretations?
    • Building on past research?
  • What evidence does the author use to make their argument?
    • Close reading of literature or documents
    • Study results (surveys, data)
    • Analysis of other scholars' work
  • What sources does the author cite?
    • Whose work is the author building upon?

Techniques for Reading a Scholarly Article

  • Read the abstract or summary carefully, if one exists.
  • Look at any author-provided keywords.
  • Look at OneSearch or database record for the article for summary or keywords.
  • Skim the first few paragraphs of the article to find the thesis.
    • Thesis signal verbs: argue, contend, study, aim, posit, present evidence that, examine
  • Look at the conclusion for a summary of the arguments.
  • Finally, read the article carefully, summarizing paragraphs as you go.