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How to (seriously) read a scientific paper

How to (seriously) read a scientific paper
Adam Ruben’s tongue-in-cheek column about the common difficulties and frustrations of reading a scientific paper broadly resonated among Science Careers readers. Many of you have come to us asking for more (and more serious) advice on how to make sense of the scientific literature, so we’ve asked a dozen scientists at different career stages and in a broad range of fields to tell us how they do it. Although it is clear that reading scientific papers becomes easier with experience, the stumbling blocks are real, and it is up to each scientist to identify and apply the techniques that work best for them. The responses have been edited for clarity and brevity. How do you approach reading a paper? I start by reading the abstract. More from our How-To series I first get a general idea by reading the abstract and conclusions. If I’m aiming to just get the main points, I’ll read the abstract, hop to the figures, and scan the discussion for important points. All the time. Yes, many times.

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Infographic: How to read a scientific paper 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. Because scientific articles are different from other texts, like novels or newspaper stories, they should be read differently. Research papers follow the well-known IMRD format — an abstract followed by the Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion. They have multiple cross references and tables as well as supplementary material, such as data sets, lab protocols and gene sequences. All those characteristics can make them dense and complex.

How to read a scientific paper Nothing makes you feel stupid quite like reading a scientific journal article. I remember my first experience with these ultra-congested and aggressively bland manuscripts so dense that scientists are sometimes caught eating them to stay regular. I was in college taking a seminar course in which we had to read and discuss a new paper each week. And something just wasn’t working for me. Every week I would sit with the article, read every single sentence, and then discover that I hadn’t learned a single thing.

Steps of the Scientific Method Please ensure you have JavaScript enabled in your browser. If you leave JavaScript disabled, you will only access a portion of the content we are providing. <a href="/science-fair-projects/javascript_help.php">Here's how.</a> What is the Scientific Method? The scientific method is a process for experimentation that is used to explore observations and answer questions. How to Read a Journal Article Journal articles can be challenging to read, but most contain many of the same components. Once you understand the structure of each article, understanding the content is much simpler. Journal articles normally contain the following parts. For each part, try to identify the following: Abstract Writing an Article Critique What is an article critique? An article critique requires you to critically read a piece of research and identify and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the article. How is a critique different from a summary? A summary of a research article requires you to share the key points of the article so your reader can get a clear picture of what the article is about.

Building Good Search Skills: What Students Need to Know Getty The Internet has made researching subjects deceptively effortless for students — or so it may seem to them at first. Truth is, students who haven’t been taught the skills to conduct good research will invariably come up short. That’s part of the argument made by Wheaton College Professor Alan Jacobs in The Atlantic, who says the ease of search and user interface of fee-based databases have failed to keep up with those of free search engines. In combination with the well-documented gaps in students’ search skills, he suggests that this creates a perfect storm for the abandonment of scholarly databases in favor of search engines. He concludes: “Maybe our greater emphasis shouldn’t be on training users to work with bad search tools, but to improve the search tools.”

Procedure [Types of Variables] [Activity #1] [Activity #2] [Activity #3] [Steps to Success] [Move Beyond] You're doing great! You've chosen a topic and asked a question. Research Strategies - AAA Shared Resource Guide - LibGuides at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Before you start entering any search terms, spend a few minutes trying to think of as many relevant terms and combinations of terms as you can. This will help you to avoid getting stuck in a rut with the first terms that come to mind. If you need help in coming up with terms, you may want to try the "Thesaurus" or "Subject Headings" features in the database you've chosen. Check out the "Help" or "Search Tips" to learn some of the search features specific to that database. Most databases provide similar features, but the methods may vary. Some common tricks:

Supercharge students' digital literacy skills with content curation - SCIS While simple collecting is additive, curation is subtractive — what is left out is almost more important than what is included. A great way to think about collection and curation is described by Frank Chimero (2011). Consider collection as a bowl of loose pearls, and curation as a pearl necklace. The individual pearls in the bowl may be of great value, but they are pretty useless when they are just gathered together. Curation is what happens when particular pearls are selected from the bowl and strung, in a particular order, into a beautiful necklace. The necklace has fewer pearls than the bowl but, as it can be publicly admired and worn, it may be considered to have more worth.