Wednesday, 10 October 2012

How to: Read the abstract of a scientific research paper

via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Abstracts are summaries – the short paragraph that usually explains the question a study was asking and the answers it found, plus a brief overview of what methods the researchers used. Because most peer-reviewed scientific research papers sit behind big, awkward pay walls, abstracts are often the only part of the paper that you, the general public, can easily read.

That’s why it’s important to know what to look for in an abstract and how to interpret the information you read there.

Noah Gray, a senior editor at the journal Nature, put together an introduction to abstracts.

It’s online at The Huffington Post.

And it’s really good stuff with a proper exercise for you to do!

I learned my abstract reading by trial and error and I had, and still have, the vast resource that is the British Library to check where I think that perhaps I may have misinterpreted or the author(s) failed to include enough information into an abstract for me to decide whether it’s worth bringing to your attention.

Today was a good day for me to find this post from Maggie because I’ve been realising that I am spending more time, much more time, reading abstracts and making decisions about whether or not to include in this blog than I am doing the necessary re-formatting and link checking required for the actual posting.

I am also guilty of actually reading some of the more interesting articles!

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