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Reading for Research: Social Sciences

Guide Acknowledgements

How to Read a Scholarly Article from the Howard Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane University

Strategic Reading for Research  from the Howard Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane University

Bridging the Gap between Faculty Expectation and the Student Experience: Teaching Students toAnnotate and Synthesize Sources


Librarian for Sociology, MHS, GSS, and Public Policy Studies

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Pam Morgan

Structure of a Research Article

Academic writing has features that vary only slightly across the different disciplines. Knowing these elements and the purpose of each serves help you to read and understand academic texts efficiently and effectively, and then apply what you read to your paper or project.

Social Science (and Science) original research articles generally follow IMRD: Introduction- Methods-Results-Discussion


  • Introduces topic of article
  • Presents the "Research Gap"/Statement of Problem article will address
  • How research presented in the article will solve the problem presented in research gap.
  • Literature Review. presenting and evaluating previous scholarship on a topic.  Sometimes, this is separate section of the article. 

​Method & Results

  • How research was done, including analysis and measurements.  


  • What answers were found


  • Interpretation of Results (What Does It Mean? Why is it important?)
  • Implications for the Field, how the study contributes to the existing field of knowledge
  • Suggestions for further research

You might also see IBC: Introduction - Body - Conclusion


  • Identify the subject
  • State the thesis 
  • Describe why thesis is important to the field (this may be in the form of a literature review or general prose)


  • Presents Evidence/Counter Evidence
  • Integrate other writings (i.e. evidence) to support argument 
  • Discuss why others may disagree (counter-evidence) and why argument is still valid


  • Summary of argument
  • Evaluation of argument by pointing out its implications and/or limitations 
  • Anticipate and address possible counter-claims
  • Suggest future directions of research