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UMass Amherst Libraries

PUBHLTH 323 Public Health Communications

tips and resources for students taking junior year writing course

PubMed Basics

Library Research

The links below go to videos or short tutorials that cover different aspects of the research process. Please contact Ellen if you have any questions!

Ellen's Top 5 Tips

How to Find out if a Journal is Peer Reviewed

How to Read a Scientific Article

When you read a scientific article, you do not want to read it straight through in order - at least not on the first time through. There are different ways to go through an article.

Here is how I usually approach scientific articles to get a basic understanding of what the article is about:

  • I read the title and abstract to identify articles of interest. 
  • I look at the authors and their affiliations, as well as funding disclosures to look for potential slants or biases.
  • Next, I skip to the last paragraph of the Introduction, where the authors typically state what they plan to do in their study and their objectives.
  • Then, I skim through the Methods (sometimes called Materials & Methods) and Results sections, focusing on the charts, images, and tables to get a basic understanding of what they did and what they measured.
  • The Discussion/Conclusion section is what I read through after that, to get an understanding of whether the authors felt they met their objectives and what it means. In this section, they should mention limitations of their study and possibly suggest next steps for research.
  • If I still want to know more, I go back and read through the full Introduction, Methods, and Results sections.