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Biological Literature: How to Read Scientific Articles

Read with a Purpose and a Plan

Articles in scientific journals are considered a primary source. They report the actual study or experiment, and the results and conclusions from those results. In the sciences, they usually have been "peer reviewed," or deemed worthy of publication by a committee of scientists in the field. Secondary sources are articles or books that review and/or analyze and discuss the primary source.

You should approach reading an article in a science research journal with a purpose and a plan.

How to Read a Scientific Paper - Purdue Turorial

How to Read a Scientific Paper by Michael Fosmire is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Why Read Scientific Articles

Questions to Ask as you Read

  1. What specific results are mentioned in the abstract?  Are they relevant?
  2. Do you agree with the logic of the conclusions?  Are these results useful to you?
  3. Do you understand the background information found in the introduction?  Do you need to lookup references for more info?
  4. Do you understand the figures in the results section? What units are used?  Does the curve make sense?
  5. How does this article relate to other articles I've read?
  6. Are there other articles cited that I should read?

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