Reading scientific papers is not an easy task. Even for experienced scientists, it can be tricky at times! The language used in science is extremely complex and diverse, making it tough for outsiders to follow what everything means.
Furthermore, most studies have very elaborate procedures and protocols that must be followed correctly. When there are no clear instructions on how to go about reading your paper, it can sometimes feel impossible to evaluate its accuracy.
Luckily, this article will give you some tips on how to read a scientific paper effectively. We will also discuss some important terms that appear frequently while reading articles. By being familiar with these terms, you will know what things mean, which will help you understand the paper better.
This article will focus mostly on how to read clinical trial research reports. However, many of these concepts can be applied to other types of academic literature as well.
Read the introduction
After you have determined that there is an interesting topic or hypothesis being discussed, the next step is to determine what part of the paper you should begin with. The first thing you should do is read the article’s title!
The main goal of the paper, its abstract, and the introductions are all related so make use of them all. Each one adds key information about the content of the paper, as well as giving you some context.
Reading the article’s title will help you determine how important it is for you to know about the material in this paper, and whether or not it is relevant to your research.
If you find the paper very significant then work towards finding out more about the authors and the journal the paper was published in. This can be done via Google, looking at previous publications, or talking to other experts in the field.
Read the methods
In reading a scientific paper, you must be clear about what information it contains before moving onto the results or conclusions of the study. The first thing you should do is read the introduction or methodology section of the article.
This gives you an overview of the study – how and where it was conducted, what tools were used to collect data, and whether any limitations exist that might affect generalization of the findings.
They may also discuss current practices at studies’ facilities and if there are different strategies being employed to ensure robustness of the findings. All of this makes for strong evidence in the paper!
By making use of these strengths, they can increase confidence in the reliability and validity of the research done.
Read the results
A paper that is well written will clearly state what was determined about the studied topic. The readers should be able to easily find these findings by looking at the results of the study.
The researchers conducted their experiments and analyzed their data, so they could draw conclusions from it. They put all this information into the manuscript and published it for other scientists to read.
By reading the article twice, you can make sure you understand the studies findings completely. Make notes as you do this! This way, when you are later asked about the studies, you’ll have much more knowledge about them.
Reading scientific papers is an important skill to possess. It helps you become an educated person who knows how to evaluate research.
Analyze the data
A key part of reading a scientific paper is analyzing the data it contains. There are several ways to do this, depending on the journal and field you are in.
For example, if your paper was about whether or not exercise is helpful for people with obesity, then you would look at both weight loss and non-weight related effects. For instance, did exercising help reduce blood pressure? Did it improve diabetes symptoms?
There are many different tools used to analyze such data. Some parts that researchers use include: mean, median, mode, standard deviation, ratio, percent difference, t-test, etc.
While some of these may seem complicated, they all have one thing in common: They give you an idea of what the average person’s results were like, as well as how much individual variation there was.
Individual differences can be due to skill level, fitness levels, genetics, etc.
Interpret the results
The first step in reading a scientific paper is to interpret the findings of the study. You will need to determine how much weight the conclusions carry with them. For example, studies that are very hypothesis-driven may only suggest a correlation or relationship between two things.
Because scientists typically test many different variables, it can be difficult to tease out what causes what. Therefore, the conclusion of the study may not include any specific answers.
Furthermore, because researchers often times work independently, there is no set standard for experiments or research. What works for one researcher may not work well for you. As such, each individual must evaluate the study and draw their own conclusions.
Overall though, anecdotal evidence and studies like this one are important building blocks in our understanding of health and disease.
Provide a summary
As we have discussed before, reading a scientific paper is not just for science professionals or academic researchers. Anyone can read a good scientific article and understand its concepts!
Reading a scientific paper is like listening to a story. You listen at your own pace, and you make sure to pay close attention to all of the details.
When reading a scientific article, there are some basic rules that must be followed. Make sure to use these tips when reading any new article.
Never skip over any parts of the article – always read every word.
– always read every word. Do not underestimate the importance of emphasizing certain points- sometimes very small things can mean a big difference in what ideas the writer intends to convey.
For example, if an author uses the term “rat” several times, but with a descriptive adjective place after it, then they probably intended to refer to a specific species of rat.
If you simply skipped over the word “rat,” then you might assume that the writers meant “rabbit.” This could totally different meanings depending on whether the authors wanted to describe rats as more intelligent than rabbits, or whether they wanted to compare the similarities between rats and rabbits.
By using your own judgement, you will know how to apply these lessons to yourself. -SJ
Tip: Use an app like PDF Expert to quickly access and review pages within a document.
Refine your scientific reading skills
As we have discussed, using appropriate vocabulary is important when reading a paper. While there are some terms that may not be familiar, you do not need a degree in science to understand the meaning of these terms!
Many general word lists exist online which contain the definition of common scientific words. By comparing the definitions with those of the same term in another context, you can determine whether their use in this setting is appropriate or if they are used inappropriately.
By practicing your understanding of these new terms, you will know how to identify them while reading papers.
Read the discussion
As we have seen, one of the most important things in reading a scientific paper is determining what the article or paper is about. What topic it covers and what information it contains related to that topic are key pieces to understanding the article.
But before you can determine the main points of an article, you must first read the introduction. The introduction sets up the context for the rest of the article and introduces the material that will be discussed later on.
So while part of reading a scientific paper is figuring out its main content, the other half is looking at the background and setting tone for how the writer intends to present their ideas.
Reading a scientific paper as a non-scientist coming from outside the field may seem difficult at times. This could be due to the writing style or the level of science used.
However, there are some basic strategies that anyone can use to make sense of a new paper. In fact, these apply not only to scientific papers but also to business reports, news articles, and even college essays.