How to read and comprehend scientific articles

This video from the University of Minnesota Libraries explains how to read scientific articles.

How To Read a Scientific Paper

Navigating the tutorial:

  1. Click on the picture to get started
  2. Use the arrows at the bottom to move to the "next" screen.
  3. Click on the "Why" "How" and "Anatomy" to see the summary for each section.

Evaluating Research Methods: The Next Step

Besides evaluating a resource to see if it is generally scholarly or popular, peer-reviewed primary literature or secondary literature, obviously biased or not authoritative or not, you'll want to go deeper. Below are some sources that may be of use in evaluating the more subtle signs of a good research paper.

VIDEO: Scientific Studies (John Oliver, Last Week Tonight)

Evaluating Science News

Lifehacker's How to Determine If A Controversial Statement Is Scientifically True offers some sage advice:

  • Avoid confirmation bias (looking for the answers you want without questioning conclusions, thinking critically and remaining skeptical)
  • Triangulate and verify information through other web and scholarly journal sources (don't believe a single site or study)
  • Ask a librarian!

Also see 15 ways to tell if that science news story is hogwash!

Ways to Be a More Savvy Science Reader

Vox.com provides this handy list of 8 ways to be a more savvy science reader, including:

"1. How can you tell if scientific evidence is strong or weak?
2. Know the difference between a hypothesis and a theory
3. Watch out for selection bias
4. Don't confuse correlation and causation
5. Look for the gold standard: double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized tests
6. Understand "significance"
7. Be aware of conflicts of interest
8. Know that peer review isn't perfect
9. Realize that not all journals are good"

Also see 15 ways to tell if that science news story is hogwash for more in-depth analysis of this handy infographic from Compundchem.com

Tracing a claim from the popular literature to scholarly sources

Any time you see a nutritional claim in the news, on social media, from a website like WebMD, or from a friend or relative, you should see if you can find actual scholarly evidence to back it up.

Researching controversial nutrition topics