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How to read an academic article in 30 minutes or less

  • It can be defined as any scholarly piece written by academicians or experts in the field. It’s usually full of new information or findings that other research needs to read in order to expand their knowledge on the topic, cite as a supporting argument, or rebut.

    As a student, you have to read an academic article to write your essay, term paper, or thesis, or just to expand your knowledge on a certain subject.

    But academic articles – piece of scholarly texts written by academicians and experts in the field – are long, in-depth materials that require lengthy time to read. And you don’t have the lengthy time to read a bunch of them, write your article, edit it, and submit it on the deadline. Don’t worry. Here’s some tips for reading an academic article in 30 minutes or less.

    Start with the abstract section

    Every paper opens up with an abstract. This is the first section of every academic article.

    It won’t take you more than 3 minutes to read an abstract, because it’s usually short (less than 400 words) and it captures the most important sections of the paper:  The context, the argument of the paper, and its methodology.

    Look for only these three elements when reading a research paper. And look for these words: “However,” “we argue,” “this paper focuses ...,” etc. they tell you more about the context, the methodology, and the argument of the researcher – the major things you need to read to decide whether or not to use the paper for your research.

    Skim the introduction

    Don’t read an introduction. Skim it.

    Why? Because it’s just a bigger version of the abstract, which you’ve already read). So you don’t need to waste your time here. Skim to see a detail explanation of the writer’s research problems and the sources they use to support their argument.

    Go through every first 2-3 sentences of each first and last paragraph. It won’t take you up to 5 minutes to this task. Then read the methodology section.

    Dive into the methodology section

    This section explains the methodology (how the author conduct their research, answers their research questions). It’s the backbone of every academic research article. Your job here is to compare the research questions against the methodology the author use, and see if the research design fits the research questions at hand.

    Read the findings and conclusion

    Read the research findings’ section of the article to understand the findings that the author has uncovered and then move to the last section – conclusion – to read their main summary and closing argument.

    You need to read these two sections primarily to see how the author’s findings correspond with their main argument in the conclusion and how their conclusion justifies their thesis statement in the introductory section.

    It’s that simple, right? You can do this in less than 10 minutes, and go about doing your other academic activities. These tips, when you put them into practice, will not only help you read any academic article fast, it will also improve your productivity thus pushing you closer to your success.


  • Linda Fernando
    Linda Fernando Sometimes it's unavoidable to read long articles. It’s really hard for me that I not to fall asleep or go into a daze. So I found this useful article which gave me some academic tips to solve my reading problem.
    April 30, 2018 - 1 likes this - Report
  • Kathy James
    Kathy James This is such a great time management tip for students. When finding information for study, a lot of time can be wasted on articles that do not match your topic. This is a great way to find out if the piece of writing is actually useful before reading it...  more
    May 1, 2018 - 1 likes this - Report