Reading Science

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.

Salient features

Research questions

  1. What is the research question being investigated? Are there multiple questions?
  2. Where, in the paper, is it stated?
  3. Are the research questions posed in the form of hypotheses?
  4. How are the questions similar to or different from questions in other studies?

Key concepts

  1. What are the key concepts (i.e., variables) in the study?
  2. What is the definition of each key concept?
  3. How is each key concept operationalized?
  4. Which concepts are unique to the study?
  5. How do concepts in this study overlap with other studies you've read?

Study sample

  1. Who participated in the study?
  2. What were their (demographic/contextual) characteristics?
  3. How were they recruited?
  4. Of what larger population might they be considered representative? In other words, to whom might we generalize the results of each study?
  5. Alternatively, how might the study designed be transferred to a different population or context?
  6. How is the sample (and sampling strategy) similar to or different from other studies?

Data collection methods

  1. What methods were used to collect data for the study?
  2. How were the data used to address the study’s research questions or hypotheses?
  3. How are the methods were unique to the study?
  4. If the study assigned tasks, how are they similar to or different from tasks assigned in other studies?

Analysis methods

  1. What methods were used in the analysis of collected data? Were the methods qualitative or quantitative?
  2. Do the analysis methods fit the data?
  3. Does the analysis lead to the conclusions in a meaningful way?

Primary findings and implications

  1. What were the primary findings?
  2. In what ways do the findings from the study agree or disagree with other studies you have read?
  3. What are the unique contributions of the study to the scientific literature on the topic?
  4. What implications do the findings have for the improvement of an information system or service?
Reading Science -