Papers for dummies


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A brief overview of the basic anatomy of a research paper

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Papers for dummies

  1. 1. 1. What do I need? Old School • Printed copy of paper • Pencil, pen • Highlighter New Kid • Tablet device/computer with PDF software capable of allowing annotations • PDF copy of paper
  2. 2. What do I need? • Patience • Healthy dose of skepticism
  3. 3. 2. Read the paper • Critical thinking process • Don’t assume the authors are always correct. • Be skeptical – apply the rigours of the scientific model to all research
  4. 4. Some questions to ask • If the authors attempt to solve a problem, are they solving the right problem? • What are the limitations of the solution (including limitations the authors might not have noticed or admitted)? • Are there other solutions the authors do not seem to have considered? • What are the good ideas in this paper?
  5. 5. Some more questions • Are the assumptions the authors make reasonable? • Is the logic of the paper clear and justifiable, given the assumptions, or is there a flaw in the reasoning? • If the authors present data, did they gather the right data to substantiate their argument? • Did they gather and interpret the data in the correct manner?
  6. 6. Even more questions • Would other data or other means of collection of data be more compelling? • Can the results or ideas be generalised to wider populations? • Are there improvements that might make important differences? • If you were going to start doing research from this paper, what would be the next thing you would do?
  7. 7. While reading • Make notes • Go through the references in the paper • Highlight the key points • Highlight key data • Highlight anything questionable
  8. 8. Some papers may require a number of readings
  9. 9. 3. The Anatomy of a Paper
  10. 10. Authors & Affiliations
  11. 11. Abstract
  12. 12. Introduction
  13. 13. Introduction • Authors put their research into context • Make a case for what they’re doing, why they’re doing it and why it’s important • A brief overview of prior related research • Identify gaps in knowledge that they hope to fill
  14. 14. Methods
  15. 15. Methods • Explain exactly how they carried out their research • Detailed, step-by-step explanation of all of the methods • Theoretically replicate the research and achieve the same results
  16. 16. Results
  17. 17. Results • Summarises the main findings of the study • Present the results, not discuss them • Graphs, tables, etc. are often used to present and summarise data
  18. 18. Discussion
  19. 19. Discussion • Implications of results • Do the results support the authors’ original hypotheses? • Different ways to interpret the results? • Future research? • Limitations!
  20. 20. References
  21. 21. References • Sometimes the most useful part of a paper! • Almost always something listed in the references that you didn’t find yourself (or didn’t even think to look for)
  22. 22. 4. Compare Compare it to similar papers
  23. 23. 5. Archive • File/folder • Endnote • Mendeley • Papers • Zotero • Read by QxMD