How to Read and Interpret a Scientific Paper
What you'll learn
- Describe the typical sections of a scientific paper
- Discuss study design types and their implications for the study results
- Review statistical terms needed for interpreting study results
- Interest in understanding clinical or scientific research studies but no background required.
Get your head around the scientific literature! If you are a grad student, patient, medical student, clinician or researcher who needs to be able get their head around a scientific paper, then this course is for you. It’s my belief that you don’t need an extensive scientific background in order to be able to understand and make sense of a scientific paper. This course, in a straightforward way, will get you up and running in no time and help you form your own opinions about the science.
Perhaps you do have a background in science. If that’s the case, you will still get a lot out of this course and build on the skills that you already have.
Save precious time! An important approach to reading a scientific paper is to determine up front what you hope to get from the paper and avoiding having to sit there and read the whole thing. In this course, I will highlight the sections that will be helpful to read depending on your reason for reading the paper.
What makes me qualified to teach you? I’m Dr. Emma Nichols. I have a PhD in molecular biology and a Master’s degree in technical communication. After deciding that the lab and academia weren’t for me, I transitioned into medical writing. I’ve read many scientific papers in my time, and I’ve often had to digest papers quickly to meet deadlines as a medical writer and journalist. As a result, I’ve picked up a few shortcuts along the way!
I’ve been privileged to help a few folks start their career in medical writing through my 6-week course. Here are a couple of reviews:
“Emma’s enthusiasm is contagious and she has an obvious passion for helping people starting out in the medical writing business.” Gill S.
“The direct, personalized, insightful mentoring I received from Emma during and after the course is indispensable as I navigate the field of medical writing. I highly recommend Emma’s course to anyone serious about transitioning into medical writing.” Kelly C
This course will cover exactly what you need to know to read and interpret a scientific paper, including the following:
The structure of a scientific article
Important terms related to study population and trial design
Different study designs and their implications
Terms used to describe results
Statistical significance and confidence intervals
Sensitivity and specificity
Adverse events and placebo effect
Impact factor and peer review
At the end, I will discuss three papers and talk about how to approach reading them from the perspective of a patient, a clinician, and researcher, respectively.
What are the requirements? Most sections are suitable for people without a strong science background, but there is one section that goes into detail about different ways to report results and might be a bit slow going for someone who is not familiar with the topic. Likewise, some sections may be considered a bit rudimentary for people with a PhD or an MD, but it never hurts to brush up on your knowledge. In general, this course should appeal to anyone who has an interest of need to read the scientific literature.
My promise to you I am here on this planet to teach and communicate (especially about science and medicine). If you have any questions about the course content or anything related to this topic, you can always post a question in the course or send me a direct message.
Go ahead and click the enroll button, and I'll see you in lesson 1
All the best, Emma
Who this course is for:
- Anyone wanting to better understand how to interpret the medical or scientific literature.
- Patients, high school and college biology students, graduate students, medical students, scientists, and clinicians.
Emma Hitt Nichols, PhD, is a long time medical communications specialist. While working in a lab earning her PhD in molecular biology, she realized she would much rather communicate about science than "do" science. During her lengthy career she has helped thousands of people with a clinical or science background transition into a lucrative career they can do from the comfort of their own home.