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How to (seriously) read a scientific paper

Discussion in 'Health News and Research unrelated to ME/CFS' started by Andy, Oct 18, 2018.

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  1. Andy

    Andy Committee Member & Outreach

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    https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2016/03/how-seriously-read-scientific-paper
     
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  2. Liessa

    Liessa Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    Good question :) I don't know if you intend for this to be a discussion on this topic, but I'm happy to share what seems to work for me.

    I read the abstract and leaf/scroll through the paper to see what figures and sections it has.

    Then I go to the references. This may only work after you've read a good bunch of papers but I find it highly enlightening to see which definitions are used (do they mention CCC/ICC for example), and I look at the prevalence of BPS references. This gives some sense regarding where the current paper's authors are coming from. And I keep an eye out for authors/papers I know in general because that helps me have the right context in mind when I come across those references later.

    Then I read the discussion and the conclusion. Usually this yields some 'why how but..' questions in my mind that I can look out for.

    Then I scan/read the methods/analysis parts (depends on the subject, how well I understand it, and how much energy I have to look up every term I may still be unfamiliar with).

    :bookworm:

    I'm sure there are more ways to go about and would love to hear if others have tips!
     
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  3. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

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    I read the abstract, then the conclusion, then decide how much of the rest I want to read. Graphs and tables are useful.
     
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  4. JemPD

    JemPD Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Reading the article in the OP, it becomes clearer to me why so many scientists have fallen for the PACE (et al) nonsense.... very few of the people quoted in the article refer to reading papers with a critical eye - checking that the methodology is valid etc. It's like they're mostly coming at them with the attitude of the authors knowing more than the reader, & expecting it to automatically be valid & they want to learn it. There isn't as much mention of assessments of whether the study is likely to be any good in terms of methodology & whether the conclusions are warranted, checking whether the data do actually say what the conclusion suggests etc.

    There is mention of it, but it seems much less prominent/common.
     
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  5. Andy

    Andy Committee Member & Outreach

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    This article is much like many others I share, I either think that it is interesting myself or that others might find it interesting, and that, broadly speaking, the subject is of relevance to the purpose of the forum in some way. So if it inspires conversation then great, if not then I'm not too worried. :)
     
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  6. Arnie Pye

    Arnie Pye Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    On the same subject, this might be of interest :

    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.660.6210&rep=rep1&type=pdf

    Title : How to read a paper - The basics of evidence-based medicine.

    The link is to the second edition which is copyright 2001. It's a free 240-page PDF download.

    Several later editions are available on Amazon for eye-watering prices. The latest is the 5th Edition.

    Have I read it? I started it but didn't have the stamina to get very far, and now I've forgotten what I read. The book gets a fair number of good reviews (for what is essentially a textbook).
     

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