Transformative Education and Social Change

How to Read a Scholarly Article

Keeping Track of Sources

There are a number of ways to organize sources as you read them to help prepare for writing a literature review. Some options are:

  1.  Use a Synthesis Matrix, a spreadsheet to keep track of sources and their key themes to make it easier to synthesis the source when it comes to writing the literature review.
  2. Use a Citation Manager, a program to organize sources:
  3. Use the folder feature in Library Search or EBSCO databases.

Finding the Original Source

Here's how to find the original source for a theory or concept:

  1. Find the first place it was mentioned in the recent source you are reading. There should be some form of citation in that sentence. Follow that citation to the reference list to get the full information for the original source.
  2. If the theory is referenced from a book, search our Catalog to see if WCU Libraries already owns it: How do I find a book? If we don't own it, you can request it through Interlibrary Loan.
  3. If the theory is referenced from an article, look to see what journal the article was published in. Then, search our journal collection to see if WCU Libraries subscribes to it. If we do, click on Full Text Access to see what database the journal is in. Click on the database link and search for the article there. If we do not subscribe to the journal, you can request the article through Interlibrary Loan.

Overview of Literature Reviews

From NC State University

Online Resources