“How to Read a Scientific Paper” and “Case Study: Reading a Plant Physiology article”

One of the most important skills a young scientist needs to learn is how to read (and write) scientific papers. Some students begin to learn this in a high school biology classes, and others as they begin their university coursework. To help instructors teach these critical skills, we created two articles to introduce students to the practices and conventions of scientific articles. Both are free to download.

The first provides an introduction to and overview of the standard practices, including peer review, ethics, the typical organization of a paper,  and an introduction to numerical data and the meaning of statistical significance. You can download this resource here: ]HowtoReadScientificPaper.



The second is a guided tour of a paper from the journal Plant Physiology (the original article is appended at the back of the PDF). This case study walks the students through the paper, from start to finish, with questions to prompt deeper understanding. You can download this resource here: CaseStudyforHowtoReadScientificPaper



We hope you find these resources useful and they help to make the scientific literature a bit less overwhelming for our youngest practioners!

6 thoughts on ““How to Read a Scientific Paper” and “Case Study: Reading a Plant Physiology article””

  1. This will be very useful for teaching biology students in France. Many thanks, Mary, for the hard work you have invested in this and allowing other teachers and students to benefit.

  2. This is very educative article to sensitize students to develop scientific temper.
    Scientific paper writing and reading are essential steps for a scientist to develop right attitude and aptitude for scientifc reseach. Success in scintific pursuits depend on the two parameters. I appreciate the efforts of the authors to highlight the points.


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