ANN ARBOR, MI –
This is my final blog post (yay!); I’ll be back in the states and returning to work in my lab soon. I’ve dedicated most of my blog posts to offer advice from my research experience – in case it’s helpful to anyone. So, this blog post will be no different.
In this case, I’d like to offer advice on how to read a research article. Often, the diction of such articles is beyond that which a freshman or sophomore in college has been exposed. Here are my recommendations for reading a research article:
- Don’t: Instead of reading an article, start by reading a review article within that field. Review articles are often a collection of summaries from many articles. They’re a great way to be introduced to the discourse surrounding a research topic.
- Research the research: It can be easy to glaze over words we don’t understand. However, doing this slows down the learning process, and you might find yourself re-reading the same sentence several times and still not understanding its meaning. So, rather than skipping over unfamiliar words, it would be beneficial to look them up. This can be a daunting task, since there may be unfamiliar words in every sentence, so I usually start with words that appear a lot throughout the passage.
- Read and re-read: There is no shame in re-reading the same article several times. In fact, when I first joined the lab, I would often spend a week trying to understand one article. Speed should not be a priority at first; speed comes with experience.
- Mark it up: I prefer reading online, but even so, I would download pdfs of the articles I read in order to mark them up and take brief notes on the document. I found that, this way, it was easier to review the article when I re-read it later.
While these are just a few tips for reading research articles, I advocate for you to try and find what works best for you. Everyone has different learning styles; the key is to be patient with yours.
Thank you for reading.