Q: How should I assess scientific literature to prepare myself for writing a paper?
Hi, I have been following your articles since my graduation. Currently, I am studying architectural engineering and browsing research manuscripts, mostly about postmodern architecture. I would like to write and publish an article in the future, but at present I find it hard to even summarize the articles I'm reading as they are mainly in English. Can you please give some tips to make it easier for me to review existing literature in my field? I don’t know how and when I’ll be able to start writing a manuscript independently; I’m finding it difficult to even conduct a literature review. Please advise how I can read existing literature and prepare myself for writing a paper.
Literature reading is critical to scientific research because this habit will generate a sense of appreciation and passion for science. I can understand that reading scientific literature in English can be difficult for you; however, you need to make it a habit. In the beginning, you might not be able to understand or enjoy reading, but force yourself to read beyond the areas and subjects you are familiar with. Also, try to discuss whatever you have read with your friends or peers: this way, you can exchange your ideas and develop your understanding of the subject.
Once you have read quite a few scientific articles, you will be familiar with the language, basic structure, and organization of a good paper. Then you can read with a slightly more critical/analytical approach that will help you evaluate each article or book that you are reading.
As you read each study, try to answer these questions. They will help you understand, critically evaluate, and summarize it:
1. What is the main thesis or research question?
2. What is the purpose of the study?
3. How good are the methods of the study?
4. Is the analysis of the data relevant to the research question?
5. Do the data and analysis logically lead to the conclusions?
6. In what ways does the article contribute to the field of your research?
Additionally, make notes whenever you read an article, and create separate folders for each topic and store your notes in relevant folders. That way, you can build a database of useful resources by the time you are ready to write your own paper. In case you feel the need to get expert help to find the most relevant papers you would need for your study, some professional publication services can be of assitance, for example Editage’s Literature Search Service.