Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Scientific Article Reading (How I do)

I has found a summer lab position! *Cheer

As preparation, I've asked for a few readings as the topic is something new to me (as most things I've never done before are). I got 10 papers to read now.

How I read Scientific Articles

  1. Read it once through in order without doing much else
  2. Go back to the abstract to recap exactly what I just read
  3. Read the introduction because by this point I'm probably extremely confused
  4. Underline and define terms I'm unfamiliar with in the introduction
  5. Try to find the main questions being asked in the introduction--> highlight
  6. Go straight to results to see the answers to the questions- scribble down my own conclusions 
  7. Go back to introduction to see if what I thought makes somewhat sense with background theory
  8. Read the methods to try to get a better understanding of how the results came to be
  9. Be confused because the methods are probably beyond me... hell I'll need a whole other list to describe how I read the methods section
  10. Read results again; fix up some previous conclusions based on review of intro and maybe slight understandings of the methods
  11. Read conclusion to see if their conclusions match/contradict my own
  12. Read discussion to see how they reached their conclusions
  13. Eat chocolate
In all seriousness, usually when I get confused, I just go back to my introduction. So really the point where I define the terms in the introduction and analyze it deeply is a really important step for me. Usually I try to read several articles at once, after I annotate the introduction of one and get confused by results/methods, I'll move onto another. Since most of the articles are very related, it helps with my overall understanding of the topic. 

Reading the Methods
  1. Prepare self mentally and emotionally (as I most likely will feel like a failure)
  2. Read once through, mentally note things I understand/have seen before: highlight
  3. If highlight!=Null: Be proud I know some stuff; else: sink into deep depression
  4. Read through again and underline terms/techniques I have never heard of
  5. Cry because there are too many underlines
  6. Google all unknown terms/techniques: add findings to page
  7. Read again and try to actually understand what's going on
  8. Be confused
  9. Carry on with rest of reading the paper and hope that my subconscious can figure things out
Overall, I think it takes me quite a bit of time to read an article fully. Depending on how much I actually understand of it and how much I need to understand it, it takes between 30min to 5 days. 

Now I'm going to stop blogging and get back to reading these articles. 

1 comment:

  1. I don't need to read scientific articles or research papers as much as real science kids much (not at this point in my education at least), but this seems super useful!