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Do you actually read all the literature you're supposed to read? Options
Posted: Wednesday, April 7, 2021 7:12:53 AM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 4/7/2021
Posts: 1
Neurons: 5
I skim 75% of the papers, only paying attention to the important parts like the abstract, conclusion, certain paragraphs in the discussion section and certain other sections depending on where the important info is. In other words, I get in, and get out once I have the info that I am looking for.

I'm just wondering if others do it too or whether it's the norm to read the entire paper. I'm too embarrassed to ask others. Our professors assign a lot of large research papers to read before each class and I never read 100% of them (rarely I do, if I am enjoying it a lot).

I'm a first year master's student.
Posted: Wednesday, April 7, 2021 7:40:41 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
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edit - "literature" in this thread is more of the tale-spinning kind. Depending on the area of your study you might do better asking this in the science thread or... I don't know. I only do science.

The abstract is there for a good reason - to tell you what the paper says. And the results shows that in more detail.
If you want to go deeper into the data collection, experimental procedures, background etc, then read the paper from beginning to end. But it is your time and you have to prioritise. A lot of what is in a paper, what has to be in there to make it rigorous, contestable and repeatable, is not information that you necessarily need as a student.

What is your purpose in reading that paper?
Is it to know what they found?
Or is it to know what they found and how they found it?
What methods did they use?
What problems did they encounter, what assumptions did they make, what advice to they have for further research?
How they analysed their data to reach their conclusion?

That will influence your decision on how much of it, and what parts of it, it would be useful to read in detail.

My advice - and my suspicion of what most students do:
Read the abstract.
Read the introduction, skim the data collection if that is not important to you, skim the detailed results looking for things you don't understand, read the conclusion and take away any useful references.
And make a note of exactly what you read and make your own precis - it will help if you think you might want to look at it again to reference it yourself.

If people read from end to end all the papers published even in just their own field, they would never get any work done themselves!

Read a few through completely, so you get a good feeling for how a paper is constructed. Or how the different types of communication are constructed. But then there will be enough that you are so interested in that you read every word and spend a lot of time understanding both their results and their methods as well as their conclusions, so that is not a problem.

Not a university lecturer, so what do I know!

But it is logical that if it takes a lot of time to read a paper in detail, nobody else is reading every long paper in detail either. Or if they are, what work are they not doing with the time they are spending doing that? Whistle

edit - but do look at them all. Read and make sure you understand what they are trying to say, and why they think that is important. They are given to you for a reason. And if something comes up repeatedly as a source paper, make sure you are familiar with it.
Stefano Gomez
Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2021 9:13:12 PM

Rank: Newbie

Joined: 1/1/2019
Posts: 23
Neurons: 824,504
Location: San Pedro, San Jose, Costa Rica
don't read everything, keep doing what you´re doing.
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