This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Introduction In the era of evidence-based medicine, one of the most important skills a physician needs is the ability to analyze scientific literature critically. This is necessary to keep medical knowledge up to date and to ensure optimal patient care.
Read more How-Tos I first get a general idea by reading the abstract and conclusions. The conclusions help me understand if the goal summarized in the abstract has been reached, and if the described work can be of interest for my own study. Then I usually read the entire article from beginning to end, going through the sections in the order they appear so that I can follow the flow of work that the authors want to communicate.
If you want to make it a productive exercise, you need to have a clear idea of which kind of information you need to get in the first place, and then focus on that aspect. It could be to compare your results with the ones presented by the authors, put your own analysis into context, or extend it using the newly published data.
Citation lists can help you decide why the paper may be most relevant to you by giving you a first impression of how colleagues that do similar research as you do may have used the paper. I think the figures are the most important part of the paper, because the abstract and body of the paper can be manipulated and shaped to tell a compelling story.
If I want to delve deeper into the paper, I typically read it in its entirety and then also read a few of the previous papers from that group or other articles on the same topic. If there is a reference after a statement that I find particularly interesting or controversial, I also look it up.
Should I need more detail, I access any provided data repositories or supplemental information. If there are, I think about what could be causing them. Additionally, I think about what would happen in our model if we used the same methods as they did and what we could learn from that.
Sometimes, it is also important to pay attention to why the authors decided to conduct an experiment in a certain way. Did the authors use an obscure test instead of a routine assay, and why would they do this?
I then read the introduction so that I can understand the question being framed, and jump right to the figures and tables so I can get a feel for the data.
I then read the discussion to get an idea of how the paper fits into the general body of knowledge. I pay attention to acknowledgement of limitations and proper inference of data.
Some people stretch their claims more than others, and that can be a red flag for me. I also put on my epidemiologist hat so that I can try to make sure the study design is adequate to actually test the hypotheses being examined.
As I go deeper into the argument framing, figures, and discussion, I also think about which pieces are exciting and new, which ones are biologically or logically relevant, and which ones are most supported by the literature.
I also consider which pieces fit with my pre-existing hypotheses and research questions. Sometimes I start by skimming through to see how much might be relevant. But I always try to figure out if there are particular places or figures that I need to pay close attention to, and then I go and read the related information in the results and discussion.
I also check if there are references that I may be interested in. Sometimes I am curious to see who in the field has—or more likely has not—been referenced, to see whether the authors are choosing to ignore certain aspects of the research.
I often find that the supplementary figures actually offer the most curious and interesting results, especially if the results relate to parts of the field that the authors did not reference or if they are unclear or unhelpful to their interpretation of the overall story.
So for example, when I read for background information, I will save informative sentences from each article about a specific topic in a Word document. Likewise, when I want to figure out how to conduct a particular experiment, I create a handy table in Excel summarizing how a variety of research teams went about doing a particular experiment.
Coluccidoctoral candidate at the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program I usually start with the abstract, which gives me a brief snapshot of what the study is all about.
The results and methods sections allow you to pull apart a paper to ensure it stands up to scientific rigor. Always think about the type of experiments performed, and whether these are the most appropriate to address the question proposed. Ensure that the authors have included relevant and sufficient numbers of controls.
Often, conclusions can also be based on a limited number of samples, which limits their significance. I like to print out the paper and highlight the most relevant information, so on a quick rescan I can be reminded of the major points. Most relevant points would be things that change your thinking about your research topic or give you new ideas and directions.
Most often, what I am trying to get out of the papers is issues of methodology, experimental design, and statistical analysis. And so for me, the most important section is first what the authors did methods and second what they found results.
It can also be interesting to understand why the authors thought they were doing the study introduction and what they think the results mean discussion. But when it is an area that I know very little about, I read these closely because then I learn a lot about the assumptions and explanatory approaches in that area of research.
The point of the first reading is simply to see whether the paper is interesting for me. If it is I read it a second time, slower and with more attention to detail.
If the paper is vital to my research—and if it is theoretical—I would reinvent the paper.Feb 13, · The aim of this paper is to present an accessible introduction into critical appraisal of scientific articles. Methods Using a selection of international literature, the reader is introduced to the principles of critical reading of scientific articles in medicine.
In addition to the articles on this current page, see the following blogs which have posts related to Analyzing Research Results.
Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section "Recent Blog Posts" in the sidebar of the blog or click on "next" near the bottom of a post in the. Scientific paper analysis We have gone over a scientific paper in class.
The next step is for you to write an analysis of the paper. For the analysis, we will concentrate on what they did and what needs to be done next. In research you are working on a particular project. The . Want to analyze millions of scientific papers all at once? Here’s the best way to do it.
By Lindsay McKenzie Jul. 21, , PM. With more than a million scientific papers produced each. Jun 18, · The type of scientific paper I'm discussing here is referred to as a primary research article.
It's a peer-reviewed report of new research on a specific question (or questions). The type of scientific paper I’m discussing here is referred to as a primary research article. It’s a peer-reviewed report of new research on a specific question (or questions).
It’s a peer-reviewed report of new research on a specific question (or questions).