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How to Read a Scientific Research Paper : an overview Asst.Prof.K.Chinnasarn, Ph.D.

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Presentation on theme: "How to Read a Scientific Research Paper : an overview Asst.Prof.K.Chinnasarn, Ph.D."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to Read a Scientific Research Paper : an overview Asst.Prof.K.Chinnasarn, Ph.D.

2 Outline of session Identifying the literature - where do you start? Searching the literature Sourcing the documents Reading – getting the gist Evaluating what you read A good literature review… More help and guidance Exercise

3 Identifying the literature – where do you start? 1. Define your research area Essay/dissertation title Break this down into key areas Choose search terms (keywords) that express those areas This will be your search strategy Example Dissertation: Adaptive Binarization Document Key areas: Adaptive, Binarization, Histogram, Threshold Search terms: Adaptive, Binarization, Histogram, Threshold

4 Identifying the literature – where do you start? 2.What sort of literature will there be? Journal articles – print and online Conference papers – print and online Monographs (books) Dictionaries/encyclopaedia entries – print and online Reports – print and online Theses and dissertations – at Bath and elsewhere Statistics – print and online ‘Grey literature’ – print and online Email discussion lists/online forums The type of literature will dictate to some extent which sources of information you will need to search.

5 Identifying the literature – where do you start? 3. Choose your sources of information Sources of information for social sciences Resources for your subject Examples For journal articles Web of Knowledge SSCI International Bibliography of the Social Sciences For books – COPAC For theses – Library catalogue; Index to Theses For reports and grey literature – SOSIG For statistics – UK statistics site, Eurostat, Library statistics collection, ESDS

6 Searching the literature Sample searches Web of Knowledge COPAC UK Statistics SOSIG

7 Source your documents From an online index Available online? – click on Links button Available in Library? – click on Links button OR if your online index doesn’t have the Links button Available online? – check the A-Z of e- journals Available in Library? – check the Library catalogue IF your document is not online or in the Library Use Inter-Library Loans to get a photocopy or borrow a book from the British Library

8 Reading - getting the gist Read the authors' names. Read and digest the title. Check the abstract or executive summary and conclusion for the main points Picture time Read the Introduction and be sure the author knows the field Check to see if the Results adequately and accurately describe the data presented in the paper. Now re-read the Discussion.

9 Reading - getting the gist Title: Short, succinct, eye-catching, all-encompassing Abstract: Summary of Methods, Results, and Discussion starting off with a statement of why the research was done and with emphasis on why the results are significant.

10 Reading - getting the gist Introduction: What is the overall purpose of the research? How does the research fit into the context of its field? When was past work done, by whom, why was their work important, what you plan to do in your paper, and why what you did is important. Do you agree with the author's rationale for studying the question in this way?

11 Reading - getting the gist Materials and Methods: How you did what you did, Where you did it--nothing more. and Were the measurements appropriate for the questions the researcher was approaching?

12 Reading - getting the gist Results: What the data show you--nothing more. What is the one major finding? Were enough of the data presented so that you feel you can judge for yourself how the experiment turned out? Did you see patterns or trends in the data that the author did not mention? Were there problems that were not addressed?

13 Reading - getting the gist Discussion: Why the data show what they show, and how your analysis relates back to your objectives from the Introduction. Do you agree with the conclusions drawn from the data? Are these conclusions over-generalized or appropriately careful? Are there other factors that could have influenced, or accounted for, the results? What further experiments would you think of, to continue the research or to answer remaining questions?

14 Evaluating what you read Think about… Relevance to your topic Intended audience Currency of the information Coverage of the topic that the information provides Accuracy of the information Authority of the author or information source Level of objectivity of the author

15 Record your sources Download references from online indexes Keep systematic notes of the full records – use A guide to citing references This will form the basis of your bibliography for your dissertation A good method is bibliographic software – the SORTED programme offers training in Reference manager Endnote Keep a note of the content of each document e.g. ‘Includes discussion of the idea of originality in postgraduate research projects.’

16 A good literature review… Goes beyond simply listing relevant literature Is a critical essay Refers to the bibliography at the end of your dissertation Assesses the range of literature available Is a critical summary of the literature Examines the background against which your own research is set Forms a significant section of your dissertation

17 A good literature review… Offers opinions and personal response to the different writings Relates different writings to each other, compares and contrasts Does not take the literature at face value Shows an awareness of the theories and values that underpin the research Uses particular language: authors assert, argue, state, conclude, contend

18 Have fun even if you fail sometimes It is easy to burn out on research Both triumphs and tragedies are a part of the process Risk taking Do successful people fail? What can you do with a stack of failures? Research takes more time than you thought. Make research a part of your everyday life. Rate of progress varies radically. Set goals. Tell someone!

19 Reading to Different Depths Some work is central to your concerns, some less so. Need to vary reading depth. Some need only skim. Some read in depth. Some in between. Could be 20+ papers in total, but only 3 or 4 in depth.


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