KAP Biology Teachers Workshop Summer
Ten tips for reading research articles
This website is a collaboration with contributions from faculty,
Library and Information Services, and students at Kenyon College.
The project was conceived and developed by Chris Gillen, Associate
Professor of Biology and Jasmine Vaughan, Librarian and Technology
Bethany Lye '03, a Biology and English major, edited the lessons
and wrote portions of the Methods lesson.
In today's world, almost everyone is faced with the need to interpret
scientific work and make decisions based on scientific information.
These decisions may regard the health care of a loved one, the proper
nutritional supplement to take, or whether to invest in a biotech
The ability to read and understand the primary scientific literature
is probably the most important step towards evaluating scientific
information. Relying on secondary reports can be unsatisfactory.
Furthermore, properly understanding and interpreting secondary reports
requires some experience with reading and evaluating primary literature.
Although exposing students to the primary scientific literature
is a laudable objective, reading primary scientific papers is an
extremely difficult process.
The tutorial is intended to introduce non-majors and beginning
biology majors to the most effective ways to read and evaluate primary
biology literature. It emphasizes understanding the structure of
scientific papers, identifying hypotheses, examining experimental
designs, and interpreting graphs. In order to promote reflection
on the application of these critical reading skills to life outside
of the introductory or non-major course, pages with questions for
reflection and discussion are included in each lesson.
Financial support for this project was provided by the Andrew W.
Mellon Integrating Information Literacy Into the Curriculum grant,
awarded to the Five Colleges of Ohio. Beth Lye was also partly supported
by a Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant to Kenyon College. The
American Physiological Society granted permission to make links
to the Journal of Applied Physiology papers used on this site.
We acknowledge the helpful comments from students, other educators,
and two anonymous reviewers for the APS Archive of Teaching Resources
The site was conceived during Spring 2002, and created during Summer
2002 and Spring 2003. In Spring 2003, the tutorial was integrated
into the curriculum of Biology 105: Biology of Exercise. Students
were required to complete a lesson, including a short homework,
before class. During class, the topics were discussed and small
group exercises were completed.