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How to Read and Understand a Scientific Paper:
A Step-by-Step Guide for Non-Scientists
- Begin by reading the introduction, not the abstract.
- Identify the big question.
- Summarize the background in five sentences or less.
- Identify the specific question(s).
- Identify the approach.
- Read the methods section.
- Read the results section.
- Determine whether the results answer the specific question(s).
- Read the conclusion/discussion/interpretation section.
- Go back to the beginning and read the abstract.
- Find out what other researchers say about the paper.