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Literature searching and reading

scholarly articles

Basics of literature searching


Define topic
Define topic in terms of keywords this is a critical step
in literature searching
Think of alternative terms that can be used e.g. drug and
pharmaceutical
Think about the different contexts a word can have e.g. drug may
refer to a pharmaceutical or a substance of abuse.
Think about combinations that will narrow the search to your
context of interest e.g. drug and formulation or product or solid
Truncation can be useful to extend search e.g. crystal* will cover
crystallizing, crystallization and crystal

Combing keywords
Use logic operators and or not
drug and polymorphism
(drug or pharmaceutical) and
polymorphism
(drug and polymorphism) not (genetic or
gene)

Set limitations
Years searched
Language
Article type

Tips and Tricks


Search by author if they have written on
a particular topic once, chances are they
might have written related articles
Cited reference search if you find a
particularly useful article, see which
authors have cited that reference
If you find a useful article, see which
authors are cited in that reference

Types of articles

Reviews
Commentaries
Research Articles
Letters

Components of a Research Article


Title

Abstract
The abstract summarizes the content of
the article including methodolgy, results
and conclusions
Read the abstract first to see if the article
is relevant to your research. The title may
not always provide you with enough
information to judge this

Introduction
The introduction presents the research question
being asked. It explains the context of the
research and often discusses previous work that
was done on the topic.
If you dont know much about a subject, the
introduction part of a paper is very useful to
read.
If you are an expert, you may want to skip this
part and go to the results section.

Methodology/Procedures
The methods section (sometimes called
materials and methods) discusses how the
research was conducted. It explains what
materials were used and what procedures
were followed to perform an experiment.
Methods section is useful to evaluate if
results were obtained from meaningful
experiments and also to learn how certain
measurements can be made.

Results/Discussion
This section presents the results of the
research. The information is often
presented in a table or graphical format
and may show statistical calculations
performed on the data.
The discussion may be combined with the
results or written as a separate section

Concluding Remarks
In the conclusion, the authors summarize
key findings and make suggestion about
future directions for further research

References
The references section presents
publications that the authors have cited.
Read these articles to find out more about
the subject.

How to read a research article


Should you read a research article from
start to finish, beginning with the
introduction and ending with conclusions?
If you have read a research article, how do
you personally approach it?

One approach
1. Read conclusion at the end of the article.
2. Read the introduction section what research question
is being addressed?
3. Read the results sections closely; visualize the study
and its results.
4. Review the methods section carefully to determine if the
results are meaningful based on the experimental
approach
5. Read the discussion/analysis section very closely.

Critical Evaluation
What is the authors theoretical basis?
What new aspect is being added to what is
already known?
Especially for research reports: What
is/are the authors argument(s) in relation
to supporting/rejecting the hypotheses?
Are you convinced the data support the
conclusions?

Useful links
http://www.lib.purdue.edu/