Life Sciences - Anatomy, Biology, Botany, Ecology, Zoology & the Environment

Resources relating to biology, ecology. botany, zoology and the environment.

Parts of a Research Article

A brief overview of what the article is about and why the authors did the experiment.

Gives you the motivation and importance of the study, includes backgraound information.

Also called analysis  or  conclusions - learn the reasons for the conclusions. This is where you test if you agree with the logic of the conclusions. Using this and the abstract you can determine if the article is relevant to your research.

How the experiment was carried out. You just need to see the general method and processes used. There is no need to understand it in detail at this point.

This is the raw data from the experiment. There will be charts and tables. Understanding the charts and tables is very important for understanding the paper.

How to Read a Scientific (Research) Article

Articles in scientific journals are called "primary literature". They report the actual study or experiment, the results and conclusions from those results. In the sciences, they usually have been "peer reviewed" - that is deemed worthy of publication by a committee of scientists in the field.

You approach reading an article in a science research journal with a purpose and a plan. This process is outlined in the, How to Read a Scientific Paper tutorial from Purdue University linked below.


Reading Process in a Nutshell

  1. Read the abstract - is it relevant to your topic?
  2. Make note of the findings.
  3. Think about why the researchers did the study. Does the research question match up with the conclusions?
  4. Are the data collected appropriate to answer the research question? Are the conclusions supported by the data?
  5. Were the methods suitable to gather the results?

Questions to Ask as you Read

  • What questions do I hope this article will answer?
  • What do the authors conclude?
  • Why did the authors do this study?
  • What data/results emerged from the study?
  • How did the authors do this study?
  • What is the significance of these findings?
  • How does this article relate to other articles I've read?
  • Did this article answer my questions?
  • Are there other articles cited that I should read?
  • Has this article been cited by others?

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