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Example of How to Read and Take Notes on a Scholarly Journal Article

To practice reading and taking notes, you first need an article as a sample.  Please download the following PDF file.  You may find it helpful to print it out.  This is a scholarly journal article on leadership in nursing.

Example Scholarly Journal Article with Notes

Understanding the Author

To understand the authors of this article, do the following::

  • Look at the name of the journal
    • Australian Nursing Journal: this most likely contains information that is most relevant to nursing in Australia
  • Look at the names, titles, and affiliations (universities) of the authors at the bottom of the page
    • These authors all hold prestigious positions in nursing departments at a university; they likely are very good researchers
    • However, all the authors are from the same university, which means they may be very similar in their opinions; they may be biased and only present one side of the story that is relevant for their university
  • Look at the purpose of the article
    • The purpose of this article is to justify giving monetary awards to nursing leaders, and to encourage applications (see the end of the article, in the section titled "Acknowleding and enabling leadership in nursing")
    • They are likely only presenting their criteria for recognizing nursing leaders; there may be other opinions of what nursing leadership is about, but these authors will only present what is relevant to their award

How to Approach the Article

To approach this article, keep in mind the following:

  • Your research question is "What is leadership in nursing?"
  • Focus on the parts that explain what leadership is (ignore the parts about Australia and their award)
  • Ask yourself if there might be other aspects to leadership in nursing (ex. Developing a management framework, creating a positive work environment, etc.)
  • Think critically about what these authors say, and ask yourself if you agree or disagree (ex. Is professional leadership really separate from personal leadership?)

Steps to Read the Article

  1. Look at the structure of the article (most scientific articles follow the same specific format)
    1. Abstract (read this first)
    2. A call for nursing leadership (why leadership is important: maybe relevant)
    3. Nursing response (what nursing is doing: probably not relevant)
    4. Defining leadership (what leadership is: very relevant)
    5. Acknowledging and enabling leadership in nursing (how to create leadership: maybe relevant)
    6. References (not relevant)
    7. Author Affiliation (not relevant)
  2. Read the Abstract and Defining Leadership sections first (these seem the most relevant)
  3. Skim through the rest of the paper to see if there is anything else that is important for your paper

How to Take Notes on the Article

See the notes that are in the PDF file.  Each note focuses on what leadership in nursing is.  Even though some of the other information is interesting, it is not important for this research question.

How to Reference the Article

Here are some examples of how you might reference the article:

  • Quoting:
    • Sheahan, Duke and Nugent (2007) define personal leadership as having "expertise, integrity, empathy, sharing of authority and principled behaviour" (p. 28).
  • Paraphrasing
    • Leadership in nursing is vital to the success of the health care system in both private and public sectors (Sheahan, Duke & Nugent, 2007