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Anxiety about reading: I don't know what to read

Learn more about techniques and tools to help you if you feel anxious about reading scholarly texts

You might be feeling:

  • Overwhelmed by the number of resources you find when you search for information. 
  • Confused and asking "how can I know if a resource is relevant and applicable to my assignment or research?"



Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

What can you do right now?

Strategies for connecting readings to your coursework:

  • Make sure you understand your assignment by reviewing the instructions.
  • Consider the types of sources that you would be relevant to your topic.  Do you need examples to support or refute arguments or evidence to analyze?  Do you need to read studies that employ a particular research method? Are peer-reviewed journal articles required or are popular sources (e.g., newspapers, magazines) acceptable?
  • Think about your research question and find sources (e.g. articles, books) on your topic.  

Reading strategies

1. Skim abstracts

Abstracts give a brief description of the document that follows, so that you can decide if the reading is relevant to your topic or assignment and therefore if you should continue reading. when skimming the abstract, look for key terms and phrases that are relevant to your topic.


2. Read certain article sections first

  • First, read the abstract for a general summary
  • Next, read the discussion and/or conclusion section to see the article's main claims/takeaways
  •  Then read the last few paragraphs of the introduction to get a better understanding of the author's main arguments/hypotheses
  • Finally, if the article seems useful, read the rest of it in order 

How to read a scholarly article. (2018). Western University. Retrieved from

How to more effectively complete your textbook readings. (2016). USC-C SALT. Retrieved from

3. Evaluate sources

If you skim the abstract and decide that it might be useful to your assignment, evaluate the source further for relevancy to your assignment and topic. Use the RADAR Framework (Relevancy, Authority, Date, Appearance, Reason) to help guide you evaluation of articles and other information. 

Attribution: Reg Erhardt Library. (2018). Radar framework. Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.

Note: It's okay to use information from sources that contain strong arguments or opinions, but it's always a good idea to acknowledge the author's view.


4. Takes notes as you read

Keep your research question and main arguments in mind so that you can address them using the information you read in the article. See the "Where can I learn more" section for resources on how to take notes.

Where can you learn more?

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