Exploratorium. (n.d.). Sharing findings: The anatomy of a peer-reviewed paper. Retrieved June 5 2014 from http://www.exploratorium.edu/evidence
On your first reading of an empirical article, you can be selective in terms of what sections you want to read. During this first reading you do not want to read the article like a novel from cover to back, as this will be inefficient.
The following order in general should be used the first time you evaluate/read an article:
At this point, you can stop and decide if the article suits your needs. If yes, continue:
Then re-read the article as a whole from Introduction to Discussion
A very short concise summary of the main points of the article. Usually contains an explanatory sentence regarding the logic behind the research, the research questions, who/what is being studied and how, and their main findings.
This is always the first section of an article and may or may not be labeled "Introduction" or "literature review"
As the name implies, this section will introduce and provide the background knowledge and research (literature review and key terminology) behind the research topic in question. This section is critical for understanding the topic, its history, key studies, and the rationale behind the current research.
Often in the final paragraphs, the authors will spell out their exact research question and if applicable, the hypotheses being addressed in this paper.