Whoa, what did I just read?

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Image from https://weberlab.byu.edu/LabResources.


As you may have noticed, I sometimes post about scientific research by referencing specific scholarly articles. Since these articles are written by scientists for scientists, there is no expectation that you will understand the content unless you’re a scientist yourself (or you understand statistics and scientific methods). In fact, if you read the articles by starting at the beginning, it is pretty easy to get overwhelmed by the jargon and language, thus the “meat” of the article will be of little value to you. 

So here’s some advice. Only pay attention to two components of the article – the abstract, which is typically on the first page, and the conclusion/discussion, which is at the very end or near the end (sometimes the last section is about future directions or future research to be conducted based on the findings in the article). 

By not getting bogged down on the actual science that is described in the article, you can focus your attention on the results (i.e., what the research found), which are usually easier to read. Furthermore, attempting to read the other sections is likely to increase the probability that you will give up on the article and move on to something else. 

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