The Abstract of an article is a short summary of the article's contents. Often it includes the focus, results, and conclusions of the study. Since the abstract does not contain all the information found in the article, it's best to view it as a tool for deciding if you should investigate the article further. An article's abstract will always be freely available to view.
Questions to ask while reading the abstract:
The Introduction of an article explains the idea being investigated, and gives background information if necessary. The introduction should also indicate why the study done in this particular article is unique, or how it adds to the overall discussion. The latter part of the introduction will also contain a literature review, this is a brief summary of related research that occurred before this article was written and that this article seeks to expand on.
Questions to ask while reading the introduction:
The Materials and Methods of an article tells you how the study was performed. It should include the specific steps of the experiment or study, so as to be repeatable.
Questions to ask while reading materials and methods:
The Results of an article should give an unbiased account of what the study's findings were, with data included.
Sometimes the Results and Discussion section (described next) are combined.
Questions to ask while reading the results:
The Discussion of an article tells you what the researchers felt was significant about the results. This section contains an analysis of the data, and may point to facts and figures.
Questions to ask while reading the discussion:
The Conclusion of an article gives you the final thoughts of the researchers. It may reiterate what they noted in the discussion, or may be combined with the discussion. It may provide limitations present in the study or give recommendations for further research. This is the chance for the authors to clearly and succinctly state the ultimate finding or purpose of the article.
Questions to ask while reading the conclusion:
The References of an article lists the works used in the research and writing of the article. Any articles mentioned in the introduction should be present here, as should any studies that were modeled in the materials and methods.
Question to ask while reviewing the references: