10 tips on how to read an academic article

The Canadian Institute of Forestry has published The Forestry Chronicle, a professional and scientific forestry journal, since 1925.

Reading an academic article can be a complex task, but with a systematic approach, you can effectively extract valuable information. We have compiled some tips to help you read academic articles more efficiently:

  1. Skim the article: Begin by skimming through the article to get an overview of its structure and content. Read the title, abstract, headings, subheadings, and conclusion to understand the main argument and key points.
  2. Identify the purpose and scope: Determine the purpose of the article and its relevance to your research or area of interest. Assess the scope of the article to understand if it aligns with your needs.
  3. Read the introduction carefully: The introduction provides the background, context, and research question. Pay close attention to the objectives, hypotheses, or research questions posed by the authors.
  4. Analyze the methodology: Understand the research methods employed by the authors to gather and analyze data. Assess the appropriateness of the methods and their implications for the results and conclusions.
  5. Focus on the results and findings: Examine the results section to understand the main findings of the study. Look for tables, graphs, or figures that summarize the data. Pay attention to statistical analyses, trends, and patterns observed by the authors.
  6. Evaluate the discussion and conclusion: The discussion section interprets the results and places them within the broader context of existing literature. Assess the authors’ arguments, explanations, and any limitations or shortcomings they acknowledge. The conclusion summarizes the main findings and highlights their significance.
  7. Consider the references and citations: Take note of the references cited by the authors. They can provide valuable sources for further exploration of the topic. Assess the credibility and relevance of the references to gauge the article’s academic rigor.
  8. Take notes and annotate: As you read, jot down key points, questions, or ideas that come to mind. Use annotations, highlighting, or underlining to mark important sections or quotes for easy reference later.
  9. Seek clarification if needed: Academic articles can be dense and complex. If you encounter technical terms, concepts, or arguments that are unclear, refer to external sources, textbooks, or scholarly dictionaries for clarification.
  10. Engage in critical thinking: Approach the article with a critical mindset. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of the study, alternative explanations, or potential biases. Reflect on how the article contributes to the existing body of knowledge and how it may impact your own research or understanding of the topic.

Remember, reading academic articles is an iterative process. It may take time and practice to develop proficiency, so be patient and persistent.


The Forestry Chronicle, first published in 1925, is the official journal of the Canadian Institute of Forestry/Institut forestier du Canada. Click here to learn more.



July 24, 2023