Reading Scientific Articles – Where To Read For Free?

16.05.23 Sources tips Time to read: 6min

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Have you ever tried accessing a scientific article only to discover that you cannot read it without paying? While this is the case with most scientific articles, there are platforms where you can enjoy reading scientific articles for free. This article will help you discover sources for reading scientific articles for free and give you tips on the proper way to read.

In a nutshell: Reading scientific articles

  • Reading scientific articles is a significant part of conceiving and executing successful projects in academic writing.
  • The first step for reading scientific articles is getting the right material. While many sources charge a fee for full access to their scientific articles, you can easily access free copies of scientific articles.
  • After finding the appropriate sources, you would benefit from applying the basic steps for reading scientific articles. These are skimming, re-reading, interpreting, and summarizing.

Definition: Reading scientific articles

Reading scientific articles is not like going through a blog or literary article. Scientific articles are more complex. Reading scientific articles helps you conceive and execute successful advanced science projects. It also helps you gain a more profound understanding of scientific concepts. Therefore, reading scientific articles requires more seriousness.

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Reading scientific articles for free

Several platforms on the internet require individuals to pay a fee to gain full access to scientific articles. However, you can still use many free platforms. Some people assume that platforms offering free scientific articles are illegal or scams. However, there are numerous legal websites where reading scientific articles won’t cost you. Some of these platforms and websites are:

  1. The New England Journal of Medicine – General medical articles
  2. Nature – General science
  3. American Journal of Cardiology – Cardiology articles
  4. Google Scholar
  5. IEEE Xplore
  6. National Agricultural Library
  7. Education Resources Information Center

Nowadays, there are also mobile apps, like Unpaywall, that grant you free and legal access to scientific articles.

How to read scientific articles

Most scientists spend a lot of their time reading scientific articles and papers. This allows them to stay up-to-date in their field, advance their understanding, and gather information for projects. Since they are different from other texts, reading scientific articles also requires special attention and skill. Below is a guide for reading scientific articles.

Step 1: Skim the article

You can begin reading scientific articles by skimming through them. Skimming is a reading technique where you focus on the main points of the text instead of reading every word. The goal here is to get some insight into what the paper is about. You can familiarize yourself with the structure of the article while skimming.

Skimming through the article also helps you understand its main points. It gives you an overall sense of the article’s logical progression. This step can also help you determine which part of the article you should place more focus on if you have limited time.

Furthermore, skimming helps you decide if the article is worth reading fully or if you should consider another one. Your decision should be based on the relevance of the article to your goal. For instance, if your aim is researching for a dissertation, the article should be relevant to the research questions and the subject of the dissertation. Here are guidelines for skimming an article:

Start by carefully reading the introductory paragraph or the first two paragraphs.

First, read one or two sentences and the concluding sentences of every paragraph.

Finally, read the conclusion section (all paragraphs). Ensure that you focus on the headings and main ideas as you run through the paper.

Step 2: Re-read the article

Once you have an overall idea of what the article is about, you can move on to the next step, which is re-reading the article. This is where you go back to the beginning and read every word.

While reading the article, remember that you are doing it to gather information, not for fun. Therefore, reading scientific articles should not be approached like reading a novel. Your goal should be to extract information from the text.

If you come across important information while reading scientific articles, it would be wise to stop reading and soak in the data. Occasionally, you may have to write down some information for further research or re-read a paragraph for better understanding. The key is to gain knowledge from the article and not just complete it.

In some instances, you may not have to read the entire article. The skimming stage allows you to discover areas of the article that are more important.

Step 3: Interpret the article

The next step in reading scientific articles is interpretation. This step is significantly dependent on step 2 as you can only interpret information that you have noted from re-reading.

The interpretation stage may call for further reading, especially if you come across parts of the article, terms, or words that you do not understand. It is worth mentioning that your interpretation should be based on how you have understood the article, and not the author’s opinion.

Ensure to note down the key takeaways you have from reading the article. Furthermore, note the main point driven by the article.

Step 4: Summarize the article

After reading and interpreting the article, summarizing should be easy. You can go back to your notes to find the key points.

Critical reading of scientific articles

Reading scientific articles critically is not as difficult as most people may assume. Reading a scientific article critically involves making sure that the article is of high quality. The quality of the article will depend on the writer, publisher, the place of publication, and the content.

You must also check the references to ensure the quality and reliability of the article. Questioning the content is also important. Additionally, you ought to conduct further research on the content, so you do not end up taking only one expert’s word on a topic. You may discover people with different opinions on the same topic. In such cases, it is upon you to form your opinion based on the information you have gathered.

A significant part of reading scientific articles critically is critical thinking. It is wise to remember that while the articles are peer-reviewed and written by experts, you can still question them and their validity. For instance, you can critically analyze the sampling and data collection processes before choosing to go by what the article says. Doing this will help you avoid misleading content and allow you to see beyond the writer’s notions.

Keep in mind that every research has strengths and limitations. Make sure to consider these elements in your interpretation after reading scientific articles.

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The following are free and legal platforms/sites for reading scientific articles:

  • The New England Journal of Medicine Nature
  • American Journal of Cardiology
  • Google Scholar
  • IEEE Xplore
  • National Agricultural Library
  • Education Resources Information Center

Yes, there are several free and legal platforms for reading scientific articles, like the American Journal of Medicine. There are also legal apps that offer free scientific articles, like Unpaywall.

It is a journal or scientific publication focusing on a particular topic. It is usually written by an expert and peer-reviewed before publication.

Reading scientific articles involves the following steps:

  • Step 1: Skimming the article
  • Step 2: Re-reading
  • Step 3: Interpreting
  • Step 4: Summarizing

Skimming a scientific article allows you to get an overview of the article’s structure, understand the key points of the article, determine whether the article is worth reading or not based on the information you are looking for, and determine the most important parts of the article that you should focus on.