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About this site


KAP Biology Teachers Workshop Summer 2004

References list

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 Consultant.

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 firm.

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.