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MG21 Virtual Library

Experimental Design: Reading science...

Reading Science




Scientific Language

How to read and understand a scientific paper: A Guide for non-scientists (Violent Metaphors Blog)

How to Read and Understand a Scientific Paper: A Step-by-Step Guide for Non-Scientists

Jim Burke's Academic Vocabulary (get it printable here)
Compiled from a survey of textbooks, assignments, content area standards and exams, this list seeks to help students gain a better understanding of what the "directions" are asking them to do.  Hosted on


Examining Credibility

If you're going to rely on scientific information to answer questions or design experiments, it needs to be credible.  Determining the credibility of science articles or other publications can be done by examining:

What are the author's credentials?  Do these credentials prepare him/her to address this topic?

Does the author have pre-existing biases (based on previous work or affiliations)? Does the author consider data contrary to the predicted outcome?

Is the thesis supported by adequate and quality evidence?

Does the author's work contribute to further understanding?

Use the following library guides to learn more about evaluating credibility:

Consider the Source
Examining credibility, currency, and citation.

Thinking About Think Tanks
A critical skills for researchers

Uncover Media Bias
A critical skills for researchers

Resources for Research

Google Scholar Search

Learn how this is different than your standard Google search in our guide:

Go Google Scholar


Search the Web
Learn how to power search the web using Google and other search engines.b

and then....

Search the Invisible Web
About 75% of what's on the web cannot accessed using a standard search engine. Learn to look beyond what Google gives you!

Tools for Reading

Acronym Finder
Identify all of the possible meanings for acronyms used.

Translates a word into many languages.

Online Etymology Dictionary
Understanding the history of a word can help you understand it's usage in science.  

OneLook Dictionary Search
This search engine lets you search a variety of online dictionaries simulataneously.  It's useful for searching word roots, as well as by prefix or suffix.  

Word Info: Latin-Greek Cross References
A dictionary of English vocabulary words derived primarily from Latin and Greek sources.  Great tool for identifying the root and other parts of scientific words.  

Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin

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