Intimidated and frustrated by scholarly, peer reviewed articles? Use the links below to learn how to navigate scientific journal articles.
Take a dictionary with you!
When you are just getting started in a discipline, one of the most difficult things about reading the literature is understanding the language. Using scientific dictionaries and encyclopedias to look up unfamiliar terms can be hugely helpful.
Use the resources below to assist you as you read:
Suggested Reading Strategy
- Gives you a brief overview of what the paper is about.
- Use the abstract to help you decide if the article is relevant to your topic and to brainstorm search terms.
- Summarizes important results. This is where the author(s) connect the dots - what does this research actually mean to the larger picture?
- Ask if the results are relevant to your research. If not, you might want to scrap the article.
- Explains the motivation & importance of the research, along with the prior research done on this topic.
- Do you understand the background information? If not, this is the tie to go back & look up pertinent info.
- This is where you'll find the raw data, along with figures & tables. You must be able to understand the charts to interpret the data.
- Explains how the researchers conducted their study. Could give you ideas on how to create your study for your thesis.
- Always critically evaluate the methods researchers used.
Remember that reading scientific literature is not easy, even for experts. Having a strategy, along with making sure to look up concepts and terms you don't understand, can be hugely helpful. The above strategy is recommended but developing your own based on your knowledge about what each section contains and what you need to know is key!