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How To Read A Research Paper: Students Guide

Scientific research papers are notoriously difficult to understand. This form of a document contains a heap of information, facts, and figures. To the untrained eye, a scientific research document can be an absolute minefield. What does it mean? What is the author trying to show? So many questions! If you do not understand how to read this type of paper, you will ultimately find it difficult.

Help is at hand, however. A scientific research paper usually follows a set structure and format. This means once you understand the format, you can read a research paper quickly. In the texts below, we have given a plethora of useful advice on how to read a research paper for your benefit:

Best Tips on How to Read a Research Paper and Understand It

As you read on, you will find out the awesome tips we have provided. Don’t forget that we can offer advice on other subjects too such as how to write a literature review, or how to gather data for an academic paper. We have tried to list these tips in a logical order for your benefit:

1. Ignore the abstract and concentrate first on the introduction

The abstract is a summary of the entire research document. This can usually be found at the beginning. Most college students read this first. We advise against this, however. By reading the abstract, your opinion can become biased – you can gain a predisposition to whatever viewpoint the author has presented. To truly gain a non-biased understanding of the paper, you should start with the introduction, and leave the abstract until the end.

2. Understand the main issue/subject that the paper is trying to dissect

If you do not understand the main point of the text, you have no hope of reading the paper and understanding it. Ask yourself several questions:

  • What is the subject of the text?
  • What is the main problem that the research looks to address?
  • What is the question that the authors are trying to answer?

Write this information down once you have found it. Consider the questions and then use them as you are going forward in reading the paper. As you read, if you bear in mind these questions and the purpose of the research, you will be able to put everything in context.

3. Understand what method is being used to tackle the research topic

You must look at how the author has obtained their information. Have they sourced their findings from other research? Have they simply taken information from the internet? Have they performed their own studies and analysis using scientific techniques? If you understand how they have obtained their information, you can place it into a context and see how it fits into the overall picture.

4. Look at the results and decide if they answer the research topic

A document such as this should have clear findings. Analyze these findings thoroughly. Look at what is being said – what results have been published. Are they reliable? Are they conclusive? Do they back up the argument and abstract? Do they run in line with the original thesis?

5. Take notes

Taking notes is essential when analyzing any form of text. Qualitative notes can really help boost your understanding of the subject. While you are reading, write down anything that pops into your head – it could be an important statistical figure for example or a certain phrase that stuck in your mind.

These notes can be referred back to at any point. Moreover, you can also use them if you have to write a review of the scientific text.

6. Look at other sources and opinions

Just because the research text you are reading states something, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is true, or that it is the only opinion available. To gain a true understanding of a scientific paper, look at other reliable sources too. Scour the web and see if there is any other similar documentation. Do any of these present a different opinion? Do any of them agree with the findings the author has stated? By looking at other sources, you can gain a much greater understanding of the scientific text.

Review the Research Paper You Have Read

Aside from the above tips, it is also beneficial to review the paper you have read. Writing a review can help put all the understanding you have gained onto paper. You can then refer back to this and use it for further studying. In this review, you can state what the findings are, and also give your own opinion – do you feel the research is accurate? Do you feel the questions have been answered fully? Do you feel the research was conducted in an ethical manner?

Don’t forget that you can also order a research paper if you need something to write a review on. Alternatively, if you struggle with this form of a document, you could order one instead and then concentrate on other areas of your studies. 

We hope you have found this guide enlightening. We understand that to read statistics in a research paper can be tiring and difficult. We know that such a scientific document can be fiendishly hard to understand. That is why using these tips is so important. By using the info we have provided, you should be able to read a scientific research paper with ease. You should also be able to interpret the information and write your own findings on the report.


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