How to read a scientific paper?

Publishing Apr 2, 2021

The scientific paper is an integral part of the process in the field of science. Scientists use this to communicate with one another and share essential discoveries they have made. You should know how to read a scientific paper if you consider doing original research or just want to learn more about a specific topic.

A scientific paper is a detailed report on the current findings of an experiment. If you're interested in studying some field, reading what has already been discovered and how we can answer the remaining questions will help you get a head start on your research.

9 steps to reading a Scientific paper

1. Read the Intro first, leave the abstract for later

Abstracts are often used to summarize a paper; they’re also the part of papers that most people read. The problem is that not many people read an abstract in detail-they only skim over it. This article discusses two common mistakes made by scientists when writing an abstract and suggests alternative strategies for summarizing their work.

2. Recognize the big question

"What's this paper about? Why am I reading it?" They're not the only ones who ask that question. It's a common one, and you have every right to be asking it too. You should always take a second look for any evidence of agenda-motivated research, even if it looks pretty vague or innocent at first glance.

3. Take time to sum up the background information

It's important to understand the research that has been done in this field before attempting to answer a question. What are the limitations of past work? What is next, according to the authors? To do so succinctly and clearly, you need to explain why research must be conducted for us all to understand each other better.

4. What are the specific questions that are being asked?

The authors of the paper are trying to answer many questions with their research, but few stand out. They want to know what exactly they're testing in this study, whether it's one hypothesis or many. If it is the kind of research that tests one or more null hypotheses, identify them.

5. What is the approach of the article?

You need to know what type of article you're reading to determine what specific question is the author aiming to answer.

  • Is it an article about research?
  • Is this article a review paper?
  • Is this article a meta-analysis?

And if the title doesn't specify what type of article it is, then by examining abstract the theme and direction will become clear.

  • How are the authors going to answer the specific question that the article would imply?

6. Read the methods section.

Drawing a diagram for each experiment and showing exactly what the authors did, this article details how to categorize experiments properly. It is important to include enough detail so that readers understand the work being done in the experiment.

7. Determine whether the results answer the specific questions

One thing to keep in mind when you are interpreting a text is that your interpretation may change as you read the author's response. When this happens, it doesn't mean that your initial interpretation was wrong or incorrect because sometimes changing one's perspective can open up new interpretations.

8. Now go to the beginning again and take a look at the abstract

Was the paper's purpose achieved with your summary? Have you made any assumptions about what the authors meant in this paper?

9. Find out what other researchers say about the paper.

Sometimes, the best way to get a sense of an argument is to read what experts in that field have to say about it. I recommend you start with those who are acknowledged as being authorities in the field and see whether they agree or disagree with your reading of the study.

Just remember not to neglect to go online! There are plenty of arguments out there waiting for you too.

What are the two types of Scientific Articles?

A review article and a primary research article are both different types of scientific papers.

Review Articles

Review articles are an excellent starting point if you're looking for a summary of what has been happening in the field. They often contain more background information than primary research articles, which means if at any point you're confused while reading the primary literature, they can be an excellent place to turn to for more information on that topic.

When it comes to researching any topic, you want to make sure that you read reviews from different field areas or perspectives.

For example, if you're looking at a book about politics, it's important to read reviews from people on both sides of the aisle so that your perspective is well-rounded and not biased.

Primary research articles

One of the most important resources for research is primary data. Primary research articles contain original data and conclusions of researchers involved in experiments and details about how they were performed.

If you're looking for more information on how an experiment was carried out, or if you need to review the original data of any given experiment, it would be best to consult primary research articles.

This is because they may offer a more in-depth explanation of how experiments were done and will also allow anyone interested to evaluate the validity of the conclusions drawn from their findings.


One of the most important things you can do for your readers is to make sure you’re giving them as much information as possible. To this end, it would be wise to see if any other sources could help you out with your reporting on the topic.

For example, does the author's institution have a press release about their work?

Or maybe they're preparing something that will provide even more background info- this way, we'll be sure to give our readers everything they need.

If you would like to browse our content library at Orvium to learn how to publish papers that will go through the correct channels and be seen by the right people, we would welcome to educate you on this process.

If you want to know more about our services please visit our website or you can check our live platform here.


Great! You've successfully subscribed.
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.