Reading science is an exercise in evaluating evidence and how it relates to conclusions drawn by authors. What follows is a list of salient features and questions to prompt you to extract information from a piece of scientific literature in a systematic, efficient, and meaningful way. This should become your basis for taking notes and reviewing scientific literature.
- What is the research question being investigated? Are there multiple questions?
- Where, in the paper, is it stated?
- Are the research questions posed in the form of hypotheses?
- How are the questions similar to or different from questions in other studies?
- What are the key concepts (i.e., variables) in the study?
- What is the definition of each key concept?
- How is each key concept operationalized?
- Which concepts are unique to the study?
- How do concepts in this study overlap with other studies you've read?
- Who participated in the study?
- What were their (demographic/contextual) characteristics?
- How were they recruited?
- Of what larger population might they be considered representative? In other words, to whom might we generalize the results of each study?
- Alternatively, how might the study designed be transferred to a different population or context?
- How is the sample (and sampling strategy) similar to or different from other studies?
Data collection methods
- What methods were used to collect data for the study?
- How were the data used to address the study’s research questions or hypotheses?
- How are the methods were unique to the study?
- If the study assigned tasks, how are they similar to or different from tasks assigned in other studies?
- What methods were used in the analysis of collected data? Were the methods qualitative or quantitative?
- Do the analysis methods fit the data?
- Does the analysis lead to the conclusions in a meaningful way?
Primary findings and implications
- What were the primary findings?
- In what ways do the findings from the study agree or disagree with other studies you have read?
- What are the unique contributions of the study to the scientific literature on the topic?
- What implications do the findings have for the improvement of an information system or service?