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LCC Library

CH 242: Organic Chemistry: Scientific Papers

LCC Library resources for CH 242.


man and woman conducting an experiment

How to Read a Scientific Article

Don't try to read the article straight through from beginning to end!  First take a look at these websites that provide some tips on how to approach a scientific article so you can maximize your chances of understanding what you are reading:


ID'ing Scientific Articles

Characteristics of Most Scientific Articles

Look at the article. In general, scientific articles:

  • Are often 10 pages or longer
  • Include technical and specialized language
  • Are likely to be challenging to read and to require looking up terminology
  • Have lengthy bibliographies at the end

If an article is only 2 pages long, has no references (bibliography), and you understand it without looking up some of the words, then it is not presenting scientific research. It's just talking about it.

If your article looks good so far, then take a closer look. Most scientific research is divided into distinct, easily recognizable sub-sections. Here are some of the subheadings to look for:

  • Summary or Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and Methods (or Methodology)
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • Acknowledgments
  • References

If the article has three or more of these subheadings, then it almost certainly is an article presenting original scientific research.

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