How you should read a scientific paper

Do you read the abstract first? If so, you're doing it wrong, Jennifer Raff says in a guide for non-scientists. Raff starts with the introduction, then methods, results, and conclusions: "When I’ve got a collection of papers assembled for deep reading, I always read the abstract last. I do this because abstracts contain a succinct summary of the entire paper, and I’m concerned about inadvertently becoming biased by the authors’ interpretation of the results."

There was a great article in The Guardian last year about the subject of reading academic papers, and their was a lot more diversity of opinion on this matter than I thought there would be.

My first impression would be that journalists always read the whole article, but some say they are so pressed for time that they get by on abstracts alone.

A good policy?

Here's the original piece: