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如何阅读文献:How to read a paper?  

2012-05-16 10:51:34|  分类: 文献管理 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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       The following is a list of talking points that I found from an anonymous source online.  The original mixes English and Chinese.  Judging the writing style between the two, I gather the Chinese text was translation from the English.  To make the text consistent, I "retranslated" back to English, with some minor editing. Therefore, all credits go to the original author, whoever he/she is, whereas all possible errors are mine.

How to Read a Paper

(edited by Jonathan Zhu from an anonymous source online)

  1. Spent 5 minutes on the title to understand it (including looking for definition of key terms in the title) and then do the following before starting to read the main text:
    1. Imagine you as the researcher: how would you design the study (listing what data might come out, what conclusions the data might lead to, etc.). While doing so, you’ll soon realize: i) Did you miss a critical point, or (if this happens) did the author? ii) Did the author mislead you with the title? Note: It is perfectly OK if your list differs from the list of actual experiments done by the author.
    2. If you look up the literature to solve your own problem, then skip/ignore anything that doesn’t answer your question. Then, generate your list of experiments.
  2. Then read the abstract. Abstract usually contains i) purpose, ii) method, and iii) conclusion. Try to find the following when reading the abstract:
    1. How and why the experiment was performed. You can then tell how close your list is to the author’s.
    2. Get a sense for the order in which experiments are going to be presented. Ignore everything else.
  3. Read the conclusion carefully.
    1. Let the conclusion tell you why the author did the experiments, and what he/she thinks happened as a result. Assume everything he/she tells you is the absolute truth.
    2. Compare your list with his/hers. Write down what differences exist between the two lists, and note why you think the lists are different: Is the author leaving things out you’d like to see? Or, is he/she on a different track from yours? The key here is to fully understand his/her train of thought. If you can’t figure it out, write that down, too, specifying exactly where you fell off the train. Then move on. From here on, focus on the material you understand from the Results, and ignore what you don’t understand.
    3. Read the figures and the relevant explanations very carefully. BE CRITICAL: Assume the author is trying to pull a fast one on you. Make sure that when he/she says something, the data actually show it.
    4. Ask the following two questions, looking for answers from Materials and Method, but don’t waste time there: i) What are the controls for that experiment? ii) How do you know that this result isn’t due to something else?
    5. Identify hidden conclusions (which are hidden usually because of space limits). Challenge yourself to find alternate explanations for the results: i) What do you think they chose to omit? ii) Why did the author omit it?

      Now, before moving on, make a list of what you have learned from the reading up to this point.

  4. Looking for a clear justification for why the author chose to do the experiments: What is the main question that they claim to be answering?
  5. Check the consistency by comparing the author’s main question, data, and his/her conclusions by focusing on the following questions:
    1. Did the author answer his/her question?
    2. Did he/she do the right experiments to address the question?
    3. If your list of experiments differs from his/hers, is his/her line of experimentation better?
    4. If you had to answer this research question, knowing all that you know now, how would you do it? Maybe borrow some of their experiments? Or do exactly what they did?
  6. Read the discussion. The discussion should tell you why the work is important, and how it advances the field. It is important to judge whether the paper expected and answered the questions you had when you first saw the title.
  7. Project into the future. If you were the author, what’s the next step? What can be improved? What weaknesses can be fixed? How to connect to your future research?
  8. Pay attention to the writing style:
    1. What phrases do they use to introduce their ideas?
    2. How are the figures labeled?
    3. Is this a well-constructed paper?
    4. Is there anything in the paper you’d like to emulate?

    via:http://zjz06.wordpress.com.sixxs.org/2009/09/25/how-to-read-a-paper/

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