How to Feel More Competent When Reading Scientific Journals

Scientific journals help push research forward by giving scientists platforms for publishing their work and getting noticed by their peers and the general public alike. After all, many mainstream news sources read the press releases associated with new content published in scientific journals to get ideas about what to publish. 

The Full Picture

When people take the time to read the full journal articles instead of the brief coverage of them offered elsewhere, they’ll get the full picture of all the things the scientific team went through during their research to eventually reach milestones that break new ground within the science sector at large. But, if you’re not a scientist, the prospect of getting engrossed in science journals may seem overwhelming.

What You Can Do

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to feel more equipped when you read science journals. Applying these tips should put you in a good position to enjoy the time you spend with science journals.

One of the first things to remember is that you’re not in a race when you read an article in a scientific journal. Aim to read at a leisurely pace that allows you the time you need to read paragraphs several times to increase your understanding when needed. It’s also a good idea to look up any terms that you don’t know instead of just glossing over time. 

One of the best things to do when you dive into a scientific research paper is to read the abstract thoroughly enough to grasp it. It’s a summary of the entire research paper, and it’ll give you an idea of the questions the scientists sought to answer, the methods used, and their results. 

If you don’t have a subscription to the respective journal, the abstract might be the only part you can access. That’s why it’s a good idea to visit a college or community library and see if it’s possible to get free access to read the articles that you want in full instead of just settling for the abstracts.

It’s also a good idea to either print out the journal article so that you have a paper copy or use a browser plugin that allows you to highlight sections and make notes as you read things online. It’ll undoubtedly be difficult to digest all of the most important findings of the research during the first time that you read the article. 

But, taking the time to bring emphasis to the parts of the piece that are worth looking at again or committing to memory should make it easier to get the most of the work when you read it again after the first time. You may even want to come up with a color-coded system, such as by using a pink highlighter to call attention to quotes from the study’s scientists and picking a shade of blue when highlighting details about experiments. 

Also, it’s a good idea to realize that what you deem most important within the study might differ from what matters most to a friend, and that’s okay. The goal here is to get through the material in a practical way that helps bring the text to life and make it relatable as you keep up with scientific progress

Learn Which Publishers You Like

You’ll also feel more capable of reading scientific literature if you start learning the names of some of the prominent publishers in the sector. For example, Bentham Science specializes in science, technology, and medical publications, and is associated with more than 100 journals. 

There is also a Bentham Science Publishing Facebook page. It’s an excellent place to get informed in a slightly less technical way that may be especially appealing if you’re just getting started with science journals. 

In closing, it’s crucial to realize that you won’t be an expert in scientific journals overnight. This kind of learning, like most others, takes place through a dedicated process. When you decide to stick to it, you’ll take an important step towards growing your knowledge for life. 

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