Now some do’s First skim the article – Identify the article’s structure and features Look for the author’s main points Generate questions Draw inferences based on your own experiences and knowledge Take notes as you read
Skim the article Most articles use IMRD structure. – Introduction Materials Results Discussion Every article starts with an abstract – Why they did the study (purpose) – How they did the study (methods) – What they found out (results) – What it means (conclusion)
First read the abstract and note the 4 kinds of information outlined on the previous slide. Second flip through the article looking at the visuals (graphs or other images) – Often visuals tell the reader what kinds of experiments were done and what results were obtained Third read the rest of the paper
Purpose of the Introduction Create readers’ interest Provide enough background information about the subject so the reader can understand the article What is known What is not known What question the authors asked/answered.
Methods Section Tells the reader what experiments were done to answer the question posed in the introduction. – No results, just “how”. A lot of technical language, it’s OK if you don’t understand it. – It’s meant for other trained scientists to use to repeat the experiment
Results/Discussion Sometimes two separate sections but often found together. Alone the results section is strictly to show the data obtained. (Graphs, tables, etc…) Alone the discussion section provides a clear answer to the question and an explanation of how the results support that conclusion.
Conclusion Briefly summarizes the results and proposes any future research on the topic.
Distinguish Main Points Many places to look for the main point of the article. – Title – Abstract – Keywords – Visuals in the article – First sentence or last 1-2 sentences of introduction
Key Words/Phrases to look for Surprising Unexpected In contrast with previous work Has seldom been addressed We propose We introduce The data suggest We developed
Generate Questions Before and During reading: – Who are these authors? – What journal is this? – Might I question the credibility of the work? – Have I taken time to understand terminology? – Have I gone back to read an article that would help me understand this work better? – Am I spending too much time reading the less important parts of this article? – Is there someone I can talk to about the confusing parts of the article?
Generate Questions After Reading: – What specific problem did the research address? And why is that problem important? What are the specific findings? Can I summarize them in a sentence or two? Are the findings supported by persuasive evidence? Is there an alternate interpretation of the data the author did not address? How are the findings unique/new? What are some specific applications of the ideas presented here? What are some further experiments that would answer remaining questions?
Make inferences Rely on your prior knowledge and experiences to draw inferences from the article. People who actively question and draw inferences while reading are better able to understand and recall information
Biochemistry (Ballestar et al., 2000) Rett Syndrome is a childhood neurodevelopmental disorder and one of the most common causes of mental retardation in females hmmm I wonder if it’s on the X chromosome? with an incidence of 1 in 10,000-15,000. How common is that? How many people have the syndrome? How many people a year in the Denton area are born with it? Rett syndrome patients are characterized by a period of normal growth and development (6-18 months) followed by regression with loss of speech and purposeful hand use Why? What trigger causes this to happen in late infancy?
Take notes as you read Highlight words you don’t know so you can look them up. Write questions in the margins Use a separate sheet of paper to answer the major questions.
The Big Picture What question(s) does this paper address? Why is this an important question? What are the main conclusions of the paper? What evidence supports the conclusions? Do the data support the conclusion? Why is the conclusion important? What future research will be done? What questions did you formulate while looking at the data or methods?
References Ballestar, E., Yusufzai, T.M., and Wolffe, A.P. (2000) Effects of Rett Syndrome Mutation of the Methyl-CpG Binding Domain of the Transcriptional Repressor MeCP2 on Selectivity for Association with Methylated DNA. Biochemistry 31, 7100-7106. Zeiger, M. (2000) Essentials of Writing Biomedical Research Papers. 2 nd Ed. St. Louis: McGraw-Hill Purugganan, M., Hewitt, J. (2004) How to read a Scientific Journal Article, Rice University Cain Project in Engineering and Professional Communication.