You are here

Delays in shipping: Due to current delays in our warehouse shipping services, please expect longer than usual delivery times for any print book orders. If you need access to content immediately, please consider ordering a digital product. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

If you need further assistance please visit our Contact us page for further information. 

How to Read Journal Articles in the Social Sciences

How to Read Journal Articles in the Social Sciences
A Very Practical Guide for Students

Second Edition
  • Phillip C. Shon - Professor of Criminology at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology
Additional resources:

Study Skills

August 2015 | 144 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
This superb guide teaches you how to read critically.  Its no-nonsense, practical approach uses a specially developed reading code to help you read articles for your research project; this simple code enables you to decipher journal articles structurally, mechanically and grammatically. 

Refreshingly free of jargon and written with you in mind, it’s packed full of interdisciplinary advice that helps you to decode and critique academic writing.  The author’s fuss free approach will improve your performance, boost your confidence and help you to:   

  • Read and better understand content
  • Take relevant effective notes
  • Manage large amounts of information in an easily identifiable and retrievable format
  • Write persuasively using formal academic language and style.

New to this edition:

  • Additional examples across a range of subjects, including education, health and sociology as well as criminology
  • Refined terminology for students in the UK, as well as around the world
  • More examples dealing specifically with journal articles.

Clear, focused and practical this handy guide is a great resource for helping you sharpen your use of journal articles and improve your academic writing skills.

‘I have used the book over the last five years with my students with great success. The book has helped students to develop their critical thinking, reading and writing skills and when it comes to writing a dissertation they have used the code sheet in their own writing.’ - Pete Allison, Head of the Graduate School of Education, University of Edinburgh

Student Success is a series of essential guides for students of all levels. From how to think critically and write great essays to boosting your employability and managing your wellbeing, the Student Success series helps you study smarter and get the best from your time at university. 

Chapter 1: The Challenges of Reading
Chapter 2: Trying to Fix Mechanical and Structural Writing Problems with Abstract Tools
Chapter 3: Should I even Read This? How to Read the Abstract, General Introduction and Methods Section
Chapter 4: So What? How to Read the General Literature Review, Psychology Introductions, and Results Sections
Chapter 5: Becoming a Part of the Scholarly Community: How to Read the Discussion and Conclusion
Chapter 6: Highlighting and Organizing the ROF, SPL, CPL, GAP, RFW and POC
Chapter 7: Will the Reading Code Organization Sheet Work on Non-social Science Texts?
Chapter 8: Concluding Remarks


Study Skills Hub

Visit our hub for free academic skills, wellbeing and employability resources from our new and bestselling guides, designed to support you from day one all the way through to graduation and beyond.

Shon provides an excellent guide on how to read journal articles. The reading code sheet helps to demystify the role of journal articles as proposals to knowledge and journals as forums for debate. I have used the book over the last five years with my students (many of whom are international and studying in a second language) with great success. The book has helped students to develop their critical thinking, reading and writing skills and when it comes to writing a dissertation they have used the code sheet in their own writing.

Pete Allison
Head of the Graduate School of Education, the University of Edinburgh

This is an excellent ‘how-to’ book on the skill of reading and writing critical literature reviews. Its practical guidance is offered in clear and accessible ways. The Reading Code Sheet developed by Chong Ho Shon is particularly useful when putting this book into practice. I recommend it to both students and colleagues.

Ian Walmsley
Senior Lecturer in Criminology, University of the West of England

Teachers assume that by the time youngsters reach secondary school age they are competent readers. However, unless they have been trained or have trained themselves to do otherwise, they probably read in the same way they were taught to when they were five years old. This is not an easy read, being aimed at university students... and their lecturers. However, I believe that it could be useful for teachers who despair at their pupils’ poor reading habits and/or low retention rates.

Terry Freedman
Digital Education

 The book has the potential to interest students in a very systematic way to read academic articles. Such systems have great benefit for students who do not take easily to reading for academic purposes. Some of the codes could be helpful for most student guidance, particularly being able to identify critiques of previous literature, gaps and findings in articles and synthesising them to produce rationales for their own research.

Sue Greener, Brighton Business School
Management Learning

This book, part of the Sage Study skills guides, provides a supportive framework to allow students to develop and refine their reading skills. Having used the reading codes myself, I would recommend it as a valuable resource for students to quickly ascertain relevant content within articles. A useful companion to this book is Shon’s book in the same series The Quick Fix Guide to Academic Writing: How to avoid big mistakes and small errors, which uses the reading codes as a means of developing academic writing.

Caroline Ford
The Cognitive Psychology Bulletin

This book gives time to the art of reading a journal. It is itself word heavy and as such it may or may not be suitable to all students learning styles.

Mrs Dawn Burnham
Early Years, Farnborough College of Technology
June 16, 2017

This is a very practical guide for students in second/third year. There are step by step practical procedures that enable students to consider the challenges initially faced when reading journal articles.

Ms Nakissa Campbell
Dept of Care and Early Years, Weston College
February 21, 2017

This book is a good practical guide for undergraduates learning to engage with journal articles.

Ms Nakissa Campbell
Dept of Care and Early Years, Weston College
July 3, 2016

The book's recommendations seem very practical and helpful to me and I hope for the students as well: I know from experience that my students don't have a guideline on how to read, which - as the author points out - is closely connected with writing abilities. Although I currently cannot ask my students in a course on data gathering and analysis to delve into a full course of reading a paper, I will use much of the books guidelines and teach the essential topics in a compact version during the course. I believe that the reading code will help the students to form an identity as a researcher in the social sciences - which entails to be text-savy and this book deals exactly with this in a hands-on way.

Mr Georg Kessler
Sociology , University of Wurzburg
July 5, 2016

This is very useful in masters programmes especialy for mature practitioners who have been out of academia for some time.

Dr Mehmet Ali Dikerdem
Institute for Work Based Learning, Middlesex University
July 7, 2016