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Study Skills & Academic Success

This guide will help you find resources, tools, and advice for improving your study skills and achieving academic success.

Scientific Papers

How to read a scientific article

Scholarly scientific papers are not meant to be read straight through like popular articles or books. Instead, it is more efficient to read sections out of order to help determine if the article is what you are looking for.

Read the article in this order:

  1. Title, abstract, authors
  2. Introduction
  3. Conclusion

If the article doesn't seem to fit what you are looking for, stop here. If it is what you're looking for, then continue and read:

  1. Literature review
  2. Discussion
  3. Results 
  4. Methods
  5. References

If you like the article, then re-read it again from beginning to end to help you understand the research more fully. Then review the abstract once more when you're done. It's the authors' summary of their study. Does it match your interpretations of the paper?

Reading Tips:

  1. During your first and second read through, look up terms you aren't familiar with, and make note of interesting resources. Note taking and highlighting will help you retain information and are useful if you want to revisit the article in the future. PowerNotes (opens in a new tab) is a useful tool to help you take notes and record your research.
  2. While reading try to figure out why this research study was done. What questions was it trying to address?

When researching, you will come across different types of scientific literature. Here are a few tips to help identify the types of resources:

Primary Scientific Papers

Primary scientific papers are usually what we think of when we imagine scientific papers. They are peer-reviewed, list authors and their affiliations, and have the following sections:

  • Abstract, usually mentions performing a study or an investigation
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review, usually short
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References or works cited list

*They may also have keywords, graphs, tables, and appendices. Sometimes these papers will combine sections or call sections by different titles.  Example:

Scientific Review Articles

​Scientific review articles are peer-reviewed, and list their authors and affiliations, but do not usually have a methods section like a primary article. Instead, review articles are like a longer literature review, and summarize and analyze the state of research on a given topic. Often, the words "a review" are in the article's title. They are a great source to learn about key papers and developments about a particular topic. Example:

*Both primary and review scientific articles are found in UT Libraries' databases, and are published in scholarly journals. 

Grey Literature

Grey literature is materials and research that is produced by experts outside of traditional scholarly publishing. Grey literature can be reports, white papers, government documents, working papers, conference proceedings, and theses and dissertations. 

Popular and Trade Articles

Popular and trade articles are not peer-reviewed and are not written with scientific researchers as an audience. They are meant to inform general audiences and trade professionals on recent developments. They are usually found in magazines and websites.

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Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center

The Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center (JAHWC) serves student writers in all disciplines of the UT academic community by offering free and individualized help throughout the writing process. Trained tutors read student writing and provide feedback in one-to-one conversations. Our goal is to help students think about and improve their written work from the brainstorming stage to final revisions. A list of what support the JAHWC can provide is available on their website (link opens in a new tab). 

All writing assistance is offered via real-time online appointments through our free tutoring portal, Instructions for scheduling online appointments are available on the Writing Center website (opens in a new tab).