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  • Digging into a Scientific Study - WHY


    ·                     report results, usually experimental

    ·                     relate these results to previous knowledge in the field

    ·                     facilitate communications among scientists


    ·                     keep readers current with the latest research in field

    (Articles are published more quickly so are more up-to-date than books)

    ·                     model how a similar study might be done

    ·                     improve readers’ scientific writing skills

    (Lab papers are usually organized the same way as scientific journal articles.

    The more scientific writing is read, the better the reader’s own scientific writing skills become.)

    ·                     enable critical thinking

    (Raw data accompanies conclusions, so readers can decide for themselves.)

    ·                     find more useful resources for further research

    (The reference list can be used to find related books and articles.)

    ·                     develop a skill expected by employers in scientific & technical careers

    Magazines vs Trade Journals vs Scholarly Journals

    Here's what to look for:





    Content Secondary discussion of someone else's research; may include personal narrative or opinion; general information, purpose is to entertain or inform. Current news, trends and products in a specific industry; practical information for professionals working in the field or industry. In-depth, primary account of original findings written by the researcher(s); very specific information, with the goal of scholarly communication.
    Author Author is frequently a journalist paid to write articles, may or may not have subject expertise. Author is usually a professional in the field, sometimes a journalist with subject expertise. Author's credentials are provided; usually a scholar or specialist with subject expertise.
    Audience General public; the interested non-specialist. Professionals in the field; the interested non-specialist. Scholars, researchers, and students.
    Language Vocabulary in general usage; easily understandable to most readers. Specialized terminology or jargon of the field, but not as technical as a scholarly journal. Specialized terminology or jargon of the field; requires expertise in subject area.
    Graphics Graphs, charts and tables; lots of glossy advertisements and photographs. Photographs; some graphics and charts; advertisements targeted to professionals in the field. Graphs, charts, and tables; very few advertisements and photographs.
    Layout & Organization Informal; may include non-standard formatting. May not present supporting evidence or a conclusion. Informal; articles organized like a journal or a newsletter. Evidence drawn from personal experience or common knowledge. Structured; includes the article abstract, goals and objectives, methodology, results (evidence), discussion, conclusion, and bibliography.
    Accountability Articles are evaluated by editorial staff, not experts in the field; edited for format and style. Articles are evaluated by editorial staff who may be experts in the field, not peer-reviewed*; edited for format and style. Articles are evaluated by peer-reviewers* or referees who are experts in the field; edited for content, format, and style.
    References Rare. Little, if any, information about source materials is given. Occasional brief bibliographies, but not required. Required. Quotes and facts are verifiable.
    Paging Each issue begins with page 1. Each issue generally begins with page 1. Page numbers are generally consecutive throughout the volume.


    HOW - Your Step-by-Step Guide

    Six-page PDF steps the reader through the common parts of any scientific study with follow-up questions to guide understanding.

    "How-To" Video in the CFCC Library

    VIEW a CLIP (3-min.) of this 24-minute DVD.