I have searched the literature and I'm now have all the papers I need.

I'm reading the papers at the moment in order to write a lit review. I would like to know some strategies to read them, should I read them from first page to last page? or should I read specific sections only?

  • 7
    I'm now have all the papers I need — No, you don't.
    – JeffE
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 19:56

2 Answers 2


I really recommend that you start reading the Abstract, by that way you can get rid of some papers that would not be so valuable for your work. After that try to get a quick glimpse at the theoretical background, just to catch if there is some background that you are actually missing and you will need for understanding the article fully. Take your time to read the experimentation part and feel free to jump to the conclusions.

Remember that you do not need to read some articles from the first page to the last page, except in some ocassions. There will be some sections that you can clearly jump e.g. the theoretical part, if you have the enough background.


The objective of reading/review academic papers is to critically analyze research studies.

Critical reading is basically a process where you ask yourself questions as you're reading, such as:

  • What was the objective of the research study?
  • Did the researchers accomplish this?
  • Why or why not?
  • Why is the study important?
  • What are the implications of the findings?
  • How does this paper contribute knowledge to society?
  • Do I want to borrow an idea from this paper?
  • Do I believe something can be improved?

Answering those questions will help you figure out what you've read and why it was relevant to you and the research study you'll end up designing. It can also help you as you target each section, it's not always clear cut the order in which you'll read the paper critically.

Now that you know what to look for, how you organize those notes is up to your individual preference. There are many options available: hand written notes, digital notes, laptop, ipad, etc. I personally like to use a matrix format with different fields, such as objective, method, findings, theoretical model, etc.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .