Textbooks are designed to teach, explain and make complex information easily understood and assimilated. Research papers do the reader no such favours. Being able to understand and use primary research is an essential tool in any scientific career. This book teaches these valuable skills simply and clearly, saving hours in the long run.
Critical Reading explains how to:
approach every paper methodically
spot work aimed to support a pet theory
gain confidence in questioning what you read
be alert to bias
use abstracts intelligently
identify suspect experimental methods
assess quantitative methodology
interpret results with confidence
draw inferences from published work.
Using extracts from published Papers in Focus, this book imparts valuable know-how to students and researchers from any biomedical or biological discipline. The text is easily read and understood and the use of key points, summaries and reference reinforces good technique.
Ben Yudkin teaches at the Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford, UK, where he runs graduate courses on critical literature interpretation and experimental techniques in molecular biology.
1: The Paper Trail: The Deep End. Sources of Information. Textbooks. Reviews. Research Papers. Finding What You Need. Know Your Books. Know Your Journals. Hunting the Needle. Looking Into the Future 2: Medium and Message: Journals. Peer Review. Prestige or Puff? The Internet and Other Sources. A Tangled Web. Copying Errors 3: Scientists as Authors: Truth and Relative Truth. The World is Orderly - Isn't It? Artefact or Ugly Fact? Interpretation and Presentation. The Academic Funding Crisis. Science Meets Business. Stockholm Beckons. Sex Sells. Invisible Science. Publication Bias and Reference Bias. Calling the Tune 4: The Abstract and Introduction: First Impressions. Do I Need to Read the Paper? What is the Paper About? What Was the Point of the Research? What are Abstracts Not For? 5: Materials and Methods: The Scientific Method. Attention Please. Method or Madness? What Are Controls For? The Scientific Question. A Clear Problem 6: Quantitative Methods: Significant Figures. Statistical Significance. Confidence Intervals. Sample Size. The Significance of Figures 7: Thinking Science: Assumptions and Deductions. Outside the Box. Lines of Reasoning. Reading Research. Revisiting the Paper Trail