Dr. Chris Masterjohn tallks about How to Read a Science Paper
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Dr. Chris Masterjohn tallks about How to Read a Science Paper

In this episode, I explain how to come up with a good question, obtain the background information you need, find research, obtain full texts, organize them, read the different sections of a paper to get the right kind of value out of it, and critically analyze the study design. If you're a beginner, this is really designed for you. If you're more advanced, you'll enjoy the specific examples I give of problems interpreting research studies.

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“How to Read a Science Paper” Show Notes

In this episode, you will find all of the following and more:

0:06:15  How to develop a good question

0:09:30  How to use Pubmed and Google Scholar

0:11:50  Why and how to use MeSH terms (medical subject headings)

0:16:50  5 ways to get full-texts for free that are totally legal

0:24:35  How Sci-Hub will facilitate the technological evolution of research distribution and the Spotify-ication of the science publication industry

0:32:45  How to organize science papers to prevent wasted time and frustration later

0:34:40  Reference management software

0:36:35  The anatomy of a science paper; how you should approach each section and what you can learn from it

0:46:45  Peer review makes discussions within papers more objective; how a scathing peer review from six years ago continues to influence how I teach hormesis today

0:55:30  Acquiring background information with textbooks

0:57:35  Specific textbook recommendations

1:05:15  What you need to do before developing your own point of view

1:10:30  Strengths and limitations of different study designs

1:13:47  Observational versus experimental studies and the tradeoffs of context, size, and duration with strength of cause-and-effect inferences

1:16:50  The central role of randomization in experimental studies

1:19:20  Randomization needs a high sample size to be effective

1:21:07  Example: Finnish Mental Hospital Study

1:22:50  Example: LA Veterans Administration Hospital Study

1:25:50  Regression to the mean; how a study can show something to be true when it’s completely false; change-from-baseline data versus differences-between-groups data

1:35:45  The need for a control group: Atkins and methylglyoxal study as an example

1:37:35  Compared to what? Picking the right control group

1:41:50  The generalizability tradeoff: in vitro and in vivo, animal and human, sex, race, and other population differences

1:46:47  Contextual patterns determine outcome

1:47:50  Thailand zinc/vitamin A study as an example of nutrient interactions.

1:56:20  Do your homework, assume good faith, ask questions

Textbooks Mentioned in “How to Read a Science Paper”

Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease

Vitamin D

Various Applied Statistics books (no specific recommendation)

Statistical Methods in Medical Research

Molecular Biology of the Cell (free version, 4th edition)

Molecular Biology of the Cell (most recent 6th edition)

Biochemistry by Ferrier, excellent starting point for biochemistry

Biochemistry by Berg, Tymoczko, and Stryer (free version, 5th edition)

Biochemistry by Berg, Tymoczko, Gatto, and Stryer (most recent 8th edition, 7-day free trial for Kindle)

Introduction to Modern Liquid Chromatography

Web Resources Mentioned in “How to Read a Science Paper”


Google Scholar

BMJ Statistical Notes

EndNote (designed for someone who writes science papers)

Evernote (I use this for storing and organizing practically everything)

Research Gate

Deep Dyve

Sci-Hub Wikipedia article

Science Mag: Whose Downloading Pirated Papers? Everyone

Other Posts Mentioned in   “How to Read a Science Paper”

Dioxins in Animal Foods: A Case for Vegetarianism?

How a Study Can Show Something to Be True When It's Completely False: Regression to the Mean

Masterclass With Masterjohn: The Antioxidant System

Mastering Nutrition 6: Why “Glycation” Is a Bad Reason to Restrict Carbs

Research Mentioned in “How to Read a Science Paper”

Therapeutic potential of green tea in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Effect of vitamin A and zinc supplementation on the nutriture of children in Northeast Thailand.

Ketosis leads to increased methylglyoxal production on the Atkins diet.

Ramsden discussion of the Finnish Mental Hospitals Study

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  1. It was in the context of computer vision research but Adrian Rosebrock of PyImageSearch suggests to use the search term ‘ survey paper’ whenever looking for scientific papers on google.

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