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How to Read Journal Articles in the Social Sciences

How to Read Journal Articles in the Social Sciences
A Very Practical Guide for Students

Second Edition
  • Phillip C. Shon - Professor of Criminology at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology
Additional resources:

Study Skills

August 2015 | 144 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
This superb guide teaches you how to read critically.  Its no-nonsense, practical approach uses a specially developed reading code to help you read articles for your research project; this simple code enables you to decipher journal articles structurally, mechanically and grammatically. 

Refreshingly free of jargon and written with you in mind, it’s packed full of interdisciplinary advice that helps you to decode and critique academic writing.  The author’s fuss free approach will improve your performance, boost your confidence and help you to:   

  • Read and better understand content
  • Take relevant effective notes
  • Manage large amounts of information in an easily identifiable and retrievable format
  • Write persuasively using formal academic language and style.

New to this edition:

  • Additional examples across a range of subjects, including education, health and sociology as well as criminology
  • Refined terminology for students in the UK, as well as around the world
  • More examples dealing specifically with journal articles.

Clear, focused and practical this handy guide is a great resource for helping you sharpen your use of journal articles and improve your academic writing skills.

‘I have used the book over the last five years with my students with great success. The book has helped students to develop their critical thinking, reading and writing skills and when it comes to writing a dissertation they have used the code sheet in their own writing.’ - Pete Allison, Head of the Graduate School of Education, University of Edinburgh

Student Success is a series of essential guides for students of all levels. From how to think critically and write great essays to boosting your employability and managing your wellbeing, the Student Success series helps you study smarter and get the best from your time at university. 

Chapter 1: The Challenges of Reading
Chapter 2: Trying to Fix Mechanical and Structural Writing Problems with Abstract Tools
Chapter 3: Should I even Read This? How to Read the Abstract, General Introduction and Methods Section
Chapter 4: So What? How to Read the General Literature Review, Psychology Introductions, and Results Sections
Chapter 5: Becoming a Part of the Scholarly Community: How to Read the Discussion and Conclusion
Chapter 6: Highlighting and Organizing the ROF, SPL, CPL, GAP, RFW and POC
Chapter 7: Will the Reading Code Organization Sheet Work on Non-social Science Texts?
Chapter 8: Concluding Remarks


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A very clear and concise approach the reading journal articles.

Mr Joseph Finnerty
Social Science , University College Cork (NUI)
January 19, 2016

Why haven't I orderd myself this book before? Students struggle with journal articles and this book should help. I have put it on the list for my evidence based practice 1, 2 and 3 modules.

Ms Eve Rees
health sciences/social work, Cardiff Metropolitan University
April 19, 2016

This is an important text for our professional doctorate candidates who are, on average, between the ages of 40-60 and have been out of HE for some time. It is of invaluable use also at masters level.

Dr Mehmet Ali Dikerdem
Institute for Work Based Learning, Middlesex University
March 23, 2016

Great description of a very usefull method to read articles.

Dr Ingo Zobel
Psychology , Hochschule Fresenius
February 19, 2016

It is a good guide for student teachers from different disciplines to get easily grip on social science articles

Professor Ellen Jansen
Centre for Teacher Education, Groningen University (RuG)
December 10, 2015

This is a really important issue for students and a book on the topic is much needed. However, I didn't warm to this text. Addressing a topic that students will need to return to regularly I think it would have benefited from a more accessible style of presentation with key issues highlighted.

Dr Niamh M Flanagan
Social Science , University College Dublin
August 20, 2015

Great little book to help undergraduate students get to grip with how to read and process journal articles.

Dr Stacey Bushfield
School of Accounting & Finance, Dundee University
October 20, 2015

Other texts more accurately cover journal articles from counselling literature

Mr Peter Cardew
School of Nursing and Caring Sciences, University of Central Lancashire
August 24, 2015

I had high hopes for this volume but did not think it was well-organised and in my opinion the students would find it confusing. The system is based on annotating articles with 16 different codes, which are then used to create a sort of spreadsheet of relevant articles. In general the system of simplification and organisation is welcome. But there was no list of the 16 codes and I had to hunt through the text to make my own list. Key steps in the process, such as the annotation of themes in the left hand column, are passed over with a bare mention. In general I felt like this book was addressed not to students but to teachers, and that it touted a particular method which (apparently, according to the text) students found loathsome. Thus I will bear in mind the general themes but will not be recommending this text to my incoming students.

Dr Elizabeth Van Couvering
Dept of Media & Communication Studies, Karlstad University
August 17, 2015

An excellent book on reading and digesting information that will be very useful to my students

Mr sean flanagan
Computing, Runshaw College
September 7, 2015

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