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Section 1. GUIDELINES FOR ACADEMIC COMMUNICATION

How to Read and Understand a Science Journal Article

Instruction: This text is an adaptation of Kendra Cherry’s recommendations for graduate students and young researchers, published in the Internet and free of copyright limitations. On reading and understanding the text your purpose will be to acquire skills of skim reading scholarly papers in your field and writing a critique of both an article and a dissertation. Your immediate aim will be to employ the tactics and memorize the vocabulary well enough to be ready to discuss the topic, if necessary, with your examiner.

Part 1. A Few Simple Tactics

If you are studying your field, you are going to need to read articles published in academic and professional journals at some point. You might read these articles as part of a literature review for a paper you are writing, or your instructor may even ask you to write a critique of an article. Whatever the reason, it is essential that you understand what you are reading and find ways to then summarize the content in your own words.

Research articles can be complex and may seem daunting, especially to beginners who have no experience reading or writing this type of paper. Learning how to read this type of writing is mostly a matter of experience, but utilizing a few simple tactics can make this process much easier.

Start by Understanding How a Journal Article is Structured:

At first glance, a journal article may seem to be a confusing collection of unfamiliar terminology and complicated tables. However, most articles follow a fairly standardized format that conforms to guidelines established by academic associations. By understanding this structure, you’ll feel more comfortable working your way through each section.

The Abstract: This short paragraph-long section provides a brief overview of the article. Reading the abstract is a great way to get an idea for what information the article will cover. Reading this section first can help you decide if the article is relevant to your topic or interests.

The Introduction: The second section of the article introduces the prob-

lem and reviews previous research and literature on the topic. This part of the article will help you better understand the background of the research and the current question that is under investigation.

The Method Section: This part of the article details how the research was

conducted. Information about the participants, the procedures, the instruments and the variables that were measured are all described in this section.

The Results Section: So what were the actual results of the study? This important section details what the researchers found, so pay careful attention to this part of the article. Tables and figures are frequently included in addition to the text.

The Discussion Section: What do the result of the study really mean? In this section, the author(s) interpret the results, outline the implications of the study and provide possible descriptions of future research that should be conducted.

The References Sections: This section lists all

of the articles and other sources cited within the article.

Skim through the article:

Once you understand the basic structure of the article, your first step should be to briefly skim through the material. Never start by doing an in-depth reading of an article before you have skimmed over each section. Attempting a thorough read-through before you’ve skimmed the contents is not only difficult; it may be a waste of valuable time.

Skimming is a great way to become familiar with the topic and the information included in the paper. In some cases, you may find that the paper is not wellsuited to your needs, which can save time and allow you to move on to a research article that is more appropriate.

Take Notes on Each Section and Ask Questions:

Your next step should be to carefully read through each section, taking notes as you go. Write down important points, but also make note of any terminology or concepts that you do not understand. Once you’ve read the entire article, go back are start looking up the information that you didn’t understand using another source. This might involve using a dictionary, textbook, online resource or even asking a classmate or your professor.

Identify Key Information:

  • · Whether you are looking for information that supports the hypothesis in your own paper or carefully analyzing the article and critiquing the research methods or findings, there are important questions that you should answer as you read the article.
  • · What is the main hypothesis?
  • · Why is this research important?
  • · Did the researchers use appropriate measurements and procedures?
  • · What were the variables in the study?
  • · What was the key finding of the research?
  • · Do the findings justify the author’s conclusions?

Answer the following questions:

  • · Do you structure your own articles along these lines? If you do, how and when did you learn the tactics of structuring?
  • · Do you agree that knowing these tactics will help write a critique of an article?
  • · Which of them would you like to employ while writing a critique?
  • · Does this format conform to Ukrainian officially recognized standards?
  • · How do you identify key information sources?
  • · Prepare a 2 minute story about the tactics you employ for reading scholarly papers.

Part 2. Information Sources

Note the Sources Cited:

When reading a research article, it’s all too easy to focus on the main sections and overlook the references. However, the reference section can actually be one of the most important parts of the paper, especially if you are looking for further sources for your own paper. Spending some time reviewing this section can indicate important research articles on the topic area in which you are interested.

If you’re a home-based student, it can sound like an impossible challenge. Your biggest tool is, of course, the Internet, but how can you decide which sources are important, and then find every one of them?

Sources that Count

While you’re expected to have read everything important that’s been written on your topic, it’s neither expected nor necessary to have read every word that’s been published about the subject. You only have to read the best information.

Primary sources are considered the best place to gather academic research. Primary sources are the journals and books where academics and scientists publish the results of their experiments and studies. The articles in these journals are written by the people who did the studies or by experts who have studied a topic for decades. These are the journals and books that you are expected to use for academic research. Government websites and websites run by managing organizations (such as the website for the American Ivy Society, for a paper on ivy) are also considered primary research, so don’t overlook these sources.

Popular magazines, websites, books, and newspapers are secondary sources of information. They take the information published in scholarly journals and make it available to consumers. They usually quote the scholarly journals or books that published the information originally, adding explanations to make the information easier to understand or relate to. At the university, your teachers probably didn’t mind if you used secondary sources in your research projects. Now, though, they are off-limits. You may use their lists of references to find the names of the scholarly journals that you should use for your research, but you don’t have to use them at all.

Using Online Informational Databases

Happily, most scholarly journals and popular magazines can be found online. You will be able to search articles and read abstracts for free, but without an affiliation with a university library, you may have to pay to read the articles you choose to use in your paper. If you choose your school carefully, though, you’ll have an online library that gives students free access to several databases filled with both primary and secondary sources. Some of the most useful databases include:

Gale Group--Gives access to millions of full-text articles from thousands of journals. The Gale Group owns a variety of databases, including InfoTrac, Health Reference Center, and Academic ASAP.

Proquest--Use this database to find the full text of articles from nursing, social science, and psychology journals.

Newsbank--A good database to use if you are looking for social, economic, government, environmental, sports, health, or science news articles. Newsbank includes over 500 local and national newspapers in its database.

(After Kendra Cherry, About.com Guide)

Answer the following questions:

  • · Do you always pay attention to references?
  • · How do you know which sources count?
  • · Is there a good online library in your field at TNU?
  • · Is there access to academic journals and books in your field in Ukraine?
  • · Do you happen to know a good Internet database in your field?

Vocabulary and idiom notes to memorize and use

To write a critique of an article

It may seem daunting especially to beginners

It may seem to be a confusing collection of

To conforms to guidelines established by academic associations

This short paragraph-long section

The background of the research and the current question that is under investigation.

To outline the implications of the study

To start by doing an in-depth reading of an article

A thorough read-through

The paper is not well-suited to your needs, which can save time

To take notes on To make note of

It’s all too easy to focus on the main sections and overlook the references Sources that count

They are off-limits

Section 2. GUIDELINES FOR GRAMMAR TEST

Wrong word choice

Word choice errors involve the incorrect use of one word in place of another. The two words may related forms (other and another, for example) or they may be completely different (do and make, for example).

Descriptions of some of the most common word choice errors are given below:

Wrong choice of make or do

The verb to do is often used in place of to make, and to make in place of to do. In its basic sense, make means to produce, to create, to construct, while to do means to perform, to act, to accomplish, these verbs are also used in a number of set expressions:

Set expressions with Make:

make advances, make an attempt, make a comparison, make a contribution, make a decision, make a distinction, make a forecast, make a law, make a point, be made of (= be composed of), make up (= compose), make an investment, make a plan, make a prediction, make a profit, make a promise, make an offer, make a suggestion.

To make is also used in this pattern: make + someone +adjective (The gift made her happy.)

Common Expressions with Do:

do an assignment, do business with, do one’s duty, do someone a favor, do a job (errand, chore) do research, do one’s work.

The auxiliary verb do is used rather than repeat main verbs: (My computer doesn’t operate as fast as theirs does.)

Anytime you see the verb make or do underlined in the Written Expression section, suspect a word choice error.

Examples:

Cement is done from varying amounts of limestone, clay, and gypsum.

The verb done is incorrect in this sentence. The correct word choice is made

Small town newspapers often urge readers to make business with local merchants

The phrase should read do business with

Wrong choice of like or alike and like or as

The word alike is incorrectly used in place of like, or like is used in place of

alike. These words are used correctly in the following patterns: Like A, B ... Like birds, mammals are warm-blooded.

A, like B, ... Birds, like mammals, are warm-blooded.

A is like B ... Birds are like mammals in that they are both warm-blooded.

A and B are alike ... Birds and mammals are alike in that they are both warm-blooded.

Whenever you see the words alike or like underlined, you should suspect a word choice error.

The word like is also sometimes confused with the word as. When like is used in a comparison, it is followed by a noun or pronoun. When as is used in a comparison, it is followed by a clause containing a subject and a verb.

I did my experiment just as Paul did. My results were much like Paul’s.

The word as is also used before nouns when it means in place of or in the role of. This is particularly common after certain verbs: serve, function, and use, among others.

The vice-president served as president when the president was sick

Alike their close relative the frogs, toads are amphibians The word alike doesn’t follow the pattern Like A, B

Asters, as most perennial plants, bloom once a year.

The word like should be used in place of the word as before a noun phrase (most perennial plants).

Wrong choice of other or another

Another means «one more, an additional one.» It can be used as an adjective before a singular noun or alone as a pronoun.

He needs another piece of paper.

I have one class in that building and another in the building across the quadrangle.

Other is used as an adjective before a plural noun. It is also used as an adjective before a singular noun when preceded by a determiner such as the, some, any, one, no, and so on. It can also be used alone as a pronoun when preceded by a determiner.

There are other matters I’d like to discuss with you.

One of the books was a novel; the other was a collection of essays.

There’s no other place I’d rather visit.

Examples:

Willa Cather is known for My Antonia and another novels of the American frontier.

Before a plural noun, other must be used.

An understudy is an actor who can substitute for other actor in case of an emergency.

Other is used incorrectly in place of another before a singular noun

Wrong choice of because/because of, despite/inspite of or although, when/while or during

Certain expressions, such as because, are adverb clause markers and are used only before clauses, other expressions, such as because of, are prepositions and are used before noun phrases or pronouns.

Adverb-clause Markers Prepositions

(Used with clauses) (Used -with noun phrases)

because because of

although despite, in spite of

when, while during

Examples:

Because migration to the suburbs, the population of many large American cities declined between 1950 and 1960.

Before a noun phrase (migration), the preposition because of must be used.

Despite most people consider the tomato a vegetable, botanists classify it as a fruit

Before afull clause (most people consider the tomato a vegetable), the adverb marker although must be used.

Wrong choice of much and many and similar expressions

Certain expressions can only be used in phrases with plural nouns (many, few, a few, fewer, the fewest, number); others can be used in expressions with uncountable nouns (much, little, a little, less, the least, amount).

Examples:

Pearls are found in much colors, including cream, blue, lavender, and black.

Many must be used with a plural noun [colors].

Even during economic booms, there is a small number of unemployment. The word amount must be used to refer to an uncountable noun such as un-

employment.

Wrong choice of negative words

The answer choices for this type of item are four negative expressions, such as the ones listed below:

no adjective not any

none pronoun not one

nothing pronoun not anything

no one pronoun not anyone

nor conjunction and . . . not

without preposition not having

never adverb at no time

Examples:

There was no milk in the refrigerator.

They took a lot of pictures, but almost none of them turned out.

There was nothing in his briefcase. No one arrived at the meeting on time.

He’s never been fishing, nor does he plan to go.

She likes her coffee without milk or sugar.

I’ve never been to Alaska.

The negative word not is used to make almost any kind of word or phrase negative: verbs, prepositional phrases, infinitives, adjectives, and so on.

Both no and not can be used before nouns, depending on meaning: There is no coffee in the pot. (It’s empty.) This is not coffee. (It’s tea.)

The adjective no is also used before the word longer to mean «not anymore»: I no longer read the afternoon paper.

Example:

vegetation in Sahara, a barren region of Africa. (A) not, nor, (C) none, (D) .no Choices (A), (B), and (C) cannot be used before nouns as adjectives

By the way, probably the most common correct answer for this type of problem is the adjective no.

Mini-test

Identify and correct errors involving wrong word choice

If you are making a research in your field, you will have to do a contribution

of an article to academic and professional journals at some point.

To make a good job of a literature review for a paper you are writing, it is essential that you understand what you are reading.

Your instructor may ask you to make another assignment or even ask you to write a critique of an article.

Whatever the reason, do an attempt and find ways to render the content in your own words.

Research articles can be complex, especially to beginners, therefore if you have no experience reading or writing this type of paper do a plan for utilizing a few simple tactics that can make this process much easier.

Choose the right word

Write down important points, (alike/like/as) terminology or concepts that you do not understand.

You look (alike/like/as) you have seen a ghost.

Did you read the entire article, (alike/like/as) you are supposed to have done?

The twins are so much (alike/like/as) that even their mother sometimes takes one for (other/another/the other).

Who did I see coming back home? No (other/another/the other).than Little Dorrit.

It’s neither (either/neither/or/nor) expected (either/neither/or/nor) necessary to read every word of the text (when/while/during) preparing to answer at the exam.

(Despite/In spite of/Although) the articles in these journals are written by the people who did the studies or by experts who have studied a topic for decades, they are not always very informative.

You only have to read the best information about your subject (because/because of) primary sources are considered the best place to gather academic research.

There wasn’t (many/much/none) useful information in this article. Government websites (no/never/not/never) longer publish confidential information.

You cannot write a good literature review (without/never/not having) addressing these sources.

(Much/Many/A great amount) of information can be found in academic magazines.

Your teachers probably (not/no/never) mind if you used secondary sources in your research projects.

Now, though, they are (not/no/never).more acceptable.

You may use their lists of references to find (any amount of/much/many) names of the scholarly journals that you should use for your research.


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