How to Read a Scientific Journal Article? Tips for Effective Reading

Research articles are meant to provide authentic information to the public. Unlike regular newspapers or books, these journals are evaluated by a set of reviewers before being published.

So, these are the sources of genuine and precise information regarding the issue they cover.

Hence, they are read by scientists, academic faculty, doctors, pharmacists, college students with an aspiration for science with interest to know recent documented happenings in science and technology.

There are thousands of scientific journals worldwide, and each journal may have thousands of research articles. So when you intend to read some of them related to your subject of interest, it could be a time consuming and also tiresome effort.

Reading a research article is not an easy task, like reading a novel or a daily newspaper.

Because they are not written funnily or emotionally; instead, they are written with a serious tone to convey the findings without any bias. So, one will find them hard or bored to read them.

Further, it requires understanding the complex problems and solutions addressed in the research article by science and technology used in it. So then

  1. Decide the topic to study.
  2. Search the database
  3. Read the abstract
  4. Gain full access and
  5. Read it well.

Read a Scientific Journal

How to Read a Scientific Journal Paper

Take a print out of the complete article.

Reading scientific papers takes time and may need multiple readings. So, it is necessary to take the print out.

Also, it helps to hight light important points in a printout.

The research article has the following parts like

  • Title
  • An abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and methods
  • Results and data
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References.

The research articles start with a suitable title. So a glance at the title informs you about the paper and its study.

Read the abstract first.

All the four aspects mentioned above can be understood by a glimpse into the abstract itself. The general abstract mentions, in brief, the necessity for research, the methods and technique used, the result of research, and the conclusion of the study. So the abstract can tell you if you need to read further or skip to save time if not suitable for your research purposes.

The introduction covers the hypothesis.

This part of the article gives you ideas of previous studies and also why the present study was taken up.

It also mentions what the researcher wanted to study and why. It may also mention the approach to study the question taken up in the study.

This helps you get further ideas for research in related areas.

Methods and techniques

In this part of the article, you may know what specific procedures or techniques are employed for the study.

It contains the details of the procedure and also modifications adopted for the study.

So read the contents clearly as these methods may be useful for your study.

You will also get an idea of all the requirements like the instruments, chemicals, and other essentials required.

Because you can always return for more in-case, you use some of the methods in your future research.

Results and figures

This part contains the findings of the research in the table or figure format.

It may not be necessary unless you are serious about considering how the conclusion of the study was drawn from them.

Discussion and conclusion

This is possibly the lengthiest part of the article. So the idea is to leave it as much as possible and just try to focus on the conclusion and how the conclusion was drawn using some results.

Once you read the article, you may need to save them in PDF format for future references. Save them in the following format.

Journal name, year of publication, a title with simple fragments so as make you recognize what is inside the article.

Ex: Am.j neuroradio-2001-glutamte-excito-neuroimage.

You may also save them in different folders like for methods, Statistics, etc.

Where to find research articles

In academic libraries for especially old research articles, search engines like Google, yahoo, bing, etc., directly in journal or publication company sites like Elsevier, springier, nature, etc.

If you are into any of the professionals mentioned above or even a layman interested in science, then reading a research article.

♦ It helps you to find topics for research.

♦ Provides your knowledge about the advanced techniques available for evaluations or estimations used in scientific research.

♦ It also enhances your idea regarding the extent of scientific knowledge prevailing in particular areas and any further progress required.

♦ It also helps you write a research article for your research and make some suitable citations.

All the above benefits can especially help find topics for college students, solutions for health and drug-related problems to doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, the scope of research to the academic faculty, etc.

What to read in the research article?

The advice to read the research article is aimed to understand the hypothesis, the methods used to find the solutions, and also how the solutions solve the query of the hypothesis. Thus research articles, in general, have four important parts.

  • The hypothesis in the introduction: This paves an insight into why the present study mentioned in the research article has been taken up. How previous studies addressed the related concepts which lead to the present study etc.
  • Materials and methods: This region of the article is the core of the entire research. It indicates the effectiveness and reliability of the results obtained in the research article. If the methods and techniques used are highly sophisticated and also of the latest accredited modification, then the chances of results being reliable are high.
  • Results: This part of the article shows the results obtained using the material and methods mentioned. This part has to be read carefully to know the methods of statistics used in the analysis of the results obtained by the authors and also how they try to correlate the findings as an explanation to the query in the hypothesis.
  • Discussion: This part highlights the research outcome based on the results obtained by the authors. There appears to be a valid justification for the problem to be addressed by results.

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