Reading journal articles for the first time can be intimidating. Most scientific journals are structured along the following format:

1. Abstract; summarizes the work

2. Introduction; gives the rationale for the work

3. Materials and method; describes the techniques used to generate the data

4. Results; displays the results of the experiments

5. Discussion: gives the significance of the study and how it can lead to a better understanding of the discipline

We suggest that the abstract and introduction must be read in detail in that very order. This will give the reader the purpose for the study. Then it is advised to skip to the end of the article and read the discussion. This will show the importance of the study and it will allow you to bracket the information.

At this stage you now understand what the investigators started out to study and the knowledge claims they have made from that study. Now read the results to see if the data supports their knowledge claims.

Finally, if you are presenting a journal article to a group you must find the time to read all the references. Remember, most of the answers to questions that will be asked are probably found in the references.