These papers are written in a very condensed style because of page limitations and the intended audience, which is assumed to already know the area well. Moreover, the reasons for writing the paper may be different than the reasons the paper has been assigned, meaning you have to work harder to find the content that you are interested in. Finally, your time is very limited, so you may not have time to read every word of the paper or read it several times to extract all the nuances. For all these reasons, reading a research paper can require a special approach.
A Step-by-Step Guide for Non-Scientists To form a truly educated opinion on a scientific subject, you need to become familiar with current research in that field. And to be able to distinguish between good and bad interpretations of research, you have to be willing and able to read the primary research literature for yourself.
Reading and understanding research papers is a skill that every single doctor and scientist has had to learn during graduate school. You can learn it too, but like any skill it takes patience and practice. Reading a scientific paper is a completely different process from reading an article about science in a blog or newspaper.
Not only do you read the sections in a different order than they're presented, but you also have to take notes, read it multiple times, and probably go look up other papers in order to understand some of the details.
Reading a single paper may take you a very long time at first, but be patient with yourself.
The process will go much faster as you gain experience. The type of scientific paper I'm discussing here is referred to as a primary research article. It's a peer-reviewed report of new research on a specific question or questions. Most articles will be divided into the following sections: Before you begin reading a paper, take note of the authors and their institutional affiliations.
Also take note of the journal in which it's published. Be cautious of articles from questionable journalsor sites like Natural Newsthat might resemble peer-reviewed scientific journals but aren't. Begin by reading the introduction, not the abstract. The abstract is that dense first paragraph at the very beginning of a paper.
In fact, that's often the only part of a paper that many non-scientists read when they're trying to build a scientific argument. This is a terrible practice. I always read the abstract last, because it contains a succinct summary of the entire paper, and I'm concerned about inadvertently becoming biased by the authors' interpretation of the results.
Identify the big question. Not "What is this paper about? Look closely for evidence of agenda-motivated research. Summarize the background in five sentences or less.
What work has been done before in this field to answer the big question? What are the limitations of that work? What, according to the authors, needs to be done next? You need to be able to succinctly explain why this research has been done in order to understand it. Identify the specific question s.
What exactly are the authors trying to answer with their research? There may be multiple questions, or just one. What are the authors going to do to answer the specific question s?
Read the methods section. Draw a diagram for each experiment, showing exactly what the authors did.Reading and understanding research papers is a skill which every single doctor and scientist has had to learn during graduate school.
You can learn it too, but like any skill it takes patience and practice. On this page you will find links to articles in the BMJ that explain how to read and interpret different kinds of research papers.
Papers that go beyond numbers (qualitative research) Trisha Greenhalgh, Rod Taylor Papers that summarise other papers (systematic reviews and meta-analyses) Trisha Greenhalgh Papers that tell you what things cost (economic analyses) Trisha Greenhalgh. Reading and understanding research papers is a skill that every single doctor and scientist has had to learn during graduate school.
You can learn it too, but like any skill it takes patience and. After the ﬁrst read-through, try to summarize the paper in one or two sentences.
Almost all good research papers try to provide an answer a speciﬁc question. Mendeley helps me do my research, read literature, and write papers. - Colucci At the beginning, new academic readers find it slow because they have no frame of reference for what they are reading.
Much of a scientist’s work involves reading research papers, whether it’s to stay up to date in their field, advance their scientific understanding, review manuscripts, or gather information for a project proposal or grant application.