Geneticist Jennifer Raff has assembled a helpful step-by-step guide for non-scientists on how to read and understand scientific papers. Some good, general tips here well worth keeping in mind. Number 1 is a biggie: Most people should begin by reading a paper's introduction, not its informationally dense, jargon-rich abstract.

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DISCUSSION

Most people should begin by reading a paper's introduction, not its informationally dense, jargon-rich abstract.

But...

1 Often, abstracts are not behind paywalls, whereas introductions are

2 Introductions are sometimes just as jargon-rich as the abstracts are

3 Conferences of new and ground-breaking work have abstract volumes, not introduction volumes

4 Abstracts have word limits, introductions do not. And people would rather read 500 words than 1000.