Skip to Main Content

Academic Reading Toolkit

Strategies to strengthen your academic reading abilities

Incorporating a Range of Strategies

College level textbooks can be dense; they are information-packed and can require an intense amount of focus to unpack. In addition to reading textbooks and other assigned readings, the research papers that you write in many of your courses will incorporate peer-reviewed, scholarly articles that have been written by experts in their field, most often with an audience of disciplinary experts in mind. These can be dense and demanding to digest and incorporate. With the right mindset and a variety of strategies to draw from, you can learn to face the challenge of reading difficult texts more effectively and efficiently. 

Reading Scholarly Articles

Scholarly articles often follow a format called IMRAD, which stands for Introduction, Methods, Results & Discussion. This brief video demonstrates how you can better understand a scholarly article for the first time by reading the sections in a specific order (hint: it may not be easiest to read from top to bottom!)


Reading in the Disciplines

APA Citation: Subramanyam R. (2013). Art of reading a journal article: Methodically and effectively. Journal of oral and maxillofacial pathology : JOMFP17(1), 65–70.

Reading Textbooks

If you found this video helpful, there's a whole series by UCLA's Writing and Research Team:

Reading Strategies Playlist

Annotating & Note-Taking

Whether you read  text in print or electronic format, interacting with the text as you read can boost your engagement with the text and help you retain and synthesize information. These techniques can also be helpful for drawing comparisons between different articles and incorporating them into a research paper. This video demonstrates techniques for marking up an article as you read, using strategies such as developing a key for different types of notes and using color coding.


Using an effective note-taking strategy can help you engage with difficulty texts more meaningfully. The Cornell Note Taking System offers a simple, customizable approach. Find out more about the Cornell Note Taking System here.