How to read a scientific article - HOW TO READ A SCIENTIFIC...

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HOW TO READ A SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE "Probably what you should learn if you are a graduate student is not a large number of facts, especially if they are in books, but what the important problems are, and to sense which experiments, work that has been done, probably aren't quite right." When students in the sciences are first faced with using the primary research literature, the prospect sometimes seems overwhelming. Finding pertinent journal articles often seems to involve a maze of abstracting journals, indifferent librarians, missing volumes, CDroms from hell, and bound periodicals that refuse to flatten themselves for photocopiers (no matter how hard you press on them, CPR-style). Even once an article has been located--or, in the case of this class, provided--there is the problem of reading it. The worst way to assimilate a research paper is to read it word for word, title to literature cited, as if it were a textbook. This approach is a waste of time, because perhaps as few as 1 in 4 articles that find there way into your hands should be committed to your brain, and is deadly boring. Before reading one word of an article, ask yourself: What am I looking for in this article? Knowing what I do about the subject, what gaps need to be filled, what knowledge needs to be expanded, and what controversial points need to be corroborated? Generate expectations of a journal article before you read it. This will help your analysis of the work in front of you, plus keep you more interested in the material. Then what: 1. Read the authors' names. Where and with whom are they working? What is their expertise? Names may mean little at first, but as you "wade through" a scientific subject or topic you will find familiar names cropping up, and you will develop those with whom you agree and those whom you question. 2.
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This note was uploaded on 09/21/2011 for the course LEARNING L 110 taught by Professor Afrancis during the Spring '11 term at Community College of Philadelphia.

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How to read a scientific article - HOW TO READ A SCIENTIFIC...

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