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The abstract is a one paragraph summary of the main points in the article.
The introduction presents the problems the paper will be looking at and presents a case for why the problems are worth studying.
The literature review puts the current study into context within the scholarly conversation as a whole.
The methodology tells the user how the study was conducted. Ideally, this section gives enough detail that a reader could replicate the study (do it over again).
The results are where the author presents their findings. Statistical analyses will be presented in this section if appropriate.
The discussion section allows the author to place the results into context and interpret his or her findings.
The conclusions section helps move the research forward. Where does the scholarly conversation go from here.
The references bring all the sources of information used in the research into a list so you can go back and do further research of your own.
Use these steps to explore a research article
1. Look over the structure of the article
2. Read the abstract and conclusion to get the main ideas presented in the article
3. If you find something useful search the article for more information on that point
4. If you need more, read more sections starting with the discussion and results sections
See the video below for a slightly different presentation of how to read a scholarly article (length - 2:35)