How to Read Academic Articles Methodically
From now on, this is how I will structure my precises--even though I don't have to take comprehensives/qualifying exams, field exams, or topical exams. I write them because I can't remember everything I read when I read so many articles on the same thing, I and I write them because everything becomes a footnote in the monograph anyway.
I highly suggest that YOU write them for every article you read (as soon as you finish reading it, or even as you go if you, like me, have useless marginalia and bad handwriting without effort that should be put into reading). I suggest that you do this if you have to take any of the above exams, if you are writing a very long or multi-stage project (theses, dissertations, one conceptual article followed by an empirical piece). I just suggest writing them so that you don't have to re-read articles, or heaven help you, wonder as I do if you read that article.
Plus, I like to post them on the blog. It's a public service and online server.
At any rate, I just got this in my research methods class today:
2. What is/are the key claim/s of the article?
3. What is the research design?
4. How was this research conducted? (i.e., methodology)
5. How were the data sampled? (this, I have found, is very useful to note when conducting your own study)
6. How were the data analyzed?
7. What are the main findings?
8. What evidence is brought to bear to suport those findings?
9. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence?
10. In the end, do you find the evidence persuasive?