Reading scientific literature can be tricky, particularly for those who are not trained in reading scientific material. There is so much information out there with different conclusions, making it hard to know what to believe.
With that said, learning how to read scientific research is an essential skill for anyone aspiring to have a better understanding of science. Learning how to read academic papers will improve your knowledge base and help you form more nuanced opinions about issues related to health and wellness.
Reading scientific articles requires knowing some basic things such as grammar, vocabulary, and structure. When reading through the pages of an article, you must also pay attention to context and tone.
General strategies like highlighting key words and phrases, using word synonyms, and focusing on parts of the paper that seem to make sense will help you along.
There are several good sources available to learn how to read scientific papers. This article will go over some easy ways to get started.
Look at the graphs
A very common way to read scientific literature is by reading through the article or paper, then going back to look at the accompanying graphs and/or figures.
These additional materials usually include charts and tables that give more detail about what was written in the main text. They may also directly compare one idea with another.
By looking at the diagram or table next to a sentence, you can see if their concept makes sense and whether it works better than the alternative.
You will probably have to do this several times while reading academic articles because they can be hard to understand without checking out the graphics.
But once you get into the habit of doing it, you will start noticing important details and insights that would have gone unnoticed otherwise.
Look at the tables
A lot of scientific literature has organized content into different sections or “tables”. These are typically not only easy to recognize but also indicate what part of the article is focused on. For example, if the topic is disease processes, there could be a table that outlines all of the different diseases and their symptoms.
There are several good reasons to read scientific research actively. First, it can help you understand how your health works and therefore improve it. Second, reading up on current studies and evidence will give you an understanding of why certain treatments work better than others for a given condition. And third, reading about new therapies and approaches helps create a sense of urgency in finding solutions to important problems like obesity and diabetes.
But before jumping in and trying to read just any paper, there are some basic things you should know. In this article, we will discuss some fundamental tips for reading scientific papers effectively.
Look for a scientific conclusion
Even though there are lots of steps in reading a scientific paper, what you should be looking for is a logical conclusion. Make sure that your conclusions make sense and are supported by the rest of the article.
The main goal of doing science is to test whether or not your hypothesis is correct. If your hypotheses cannot be confirmed then it is time to rethink your ideas or testing methods!
Reading a scientific paper can sometimes feel like an uphill battle against all sorts of rhetorical attacks that the author makes on their opponents. These arguments are often very subtle and tricky to identify.
However, if you take the time to read the article as a whole and look at some key components, then you will know how to read a scientific paper.
Look for a scientific perspective
As was mentioned before, reading scientific literature can be tricky because there is so much of it! When you read an article or a book’s first few pages, what you will probably see are references and citations that seem unrelated to each other.
This is totally normal. Scientists use jargon and concepts from other areas all the time when talking about their own fields.
What most people don’t realize though is that these connections go far beyond just being interesting tidbits. They can actually tell you something important about the topic at hand!
Any reference made to another field tells you something about the author of the piece as well as the field referenced. For example, if someone cites psychology in an article about health benefits of yoga, then we can assume they are very supportive of this activity.
If someone puts forward an argument based on theories in philosophy, then they likely have a solid foundation of logic underbrush.
Look for a scientific interpretation
Even if a study is not directly about weight loss, dieting, or fitness, its findings can still be helpful to you. Sometimes studies look at too broad a topic, but there are sometimes specific findings within that relate to things we should know about your health.
By this way of looking at research, the audience doesn’t need to worry about what all of the terms mean in the article. They can focus only on the concepts, ideas, and conclusions of the paper.
This process helps to sort out whether the ideas in the paper are logical and consistent with other information already outside the body. It also helps to confirm that these ideas make sense to you — using logic.
If possible, compare the ideas in the paper to your own beliefs and experiences. This gives you an idea of how well the authors think of their hypotheses and what they feel the answers are.
Look for a scientific consensus
As was mentioned before, science is an organized body of knowledge that comes from testing hypotheses against what we know. Scientists test their theories by creating experiments or investigations and then analyzing the results of these experiments.
When they gather enough data, they form conclusions based on how well those conclusions make sense with the rest of the field. This process is repeated over and over again until scientists come together on one theory or other.
With this process in mind, it becomes very easy to identify which studies are worth reading and why! Because all successful studies agree on some factor, including the conclusion of the study, you can trust the findings of the experiment.
Consider the source
A journal article does not have an audience of its own, it is published online for other people to read. Therefore, you should be very careful about who writes what and where they are coming from before you form your opinion.
A person’s background can influence the way they write and talk about things. For example, someone with an academic degree may use more formal vocabulary and emphasize precision more than someone without this qualification.
Similarly, someone working in a related field may quote or refer to studies that support their position while dismissing or downplaying studies that contradict theirs.
These types of biases can affect how well you understand the paper and how much you believe of its findings. As mentioned earlier, scientific papers must be validated by another piece of literature, so checking such references is important next time you read something.
Look at other information provided
There is an important part of reading any scientific literature that many people forget about – even more so as you become more advanced in science. This is looking at what else was found about the topic, studies with similar topics, and conclusions others have made on the subject.
Other things can be used to corroborate or refute the findings of the article you are reading, and how these relate to your own research or ideas. For example, if there is one article talking about the benefits of eating nuts, another could be using the opposite side of the argument, or a third could find that it does not help much.
By doing this, you will get the most sound information possible from the article, and the reader who reads the article after yours will also get the same insights.