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Reading Research Papers at University not great at English (tips?)

So I start my official university classes for 2nd year at university tomorrow (studying biomedical science, basically biology). We have a workshop on Thursday, where we will have to learn to analyse data etc. from research papers. Hence, we have all just recieved an email from a lecturer asking us to read a specific research paper, before the workshop on Thursday (we will be working on it in the workshop).

I have briefly read some research papers in 1st year for an essay, but I found a lot of the content too advanced and ended up just skimming to the parts I felt I could use and highlighting + takes notes at the side. However, I never sat and properly read a full one. The one I've to read for Thursday is approximately 20 pages long :sour:

Fair enough if I could make sense of it, but just attempted to read the first paragraph and I spend so much time trying to understand what everything means, after reading the first paragraph I know nothing about what it said- if that makes sense, this stuff is above my level currently but obviously by the end of this year hopefully it will be more of my level. I know this is about learning and that the majority of others will also struggle. But I particularly find the reading and writing aspect very difficult- I was always weaker in English at school (but very strong in maths and sciences etc.) - I actually don't even have higher english (A level equivalent in scotland), only standard grade (GCSE equivalent). I know its a scientific paper and as a result of not knowing many of the terms, there will be a lot I wont understand and everyone else in my year will be the same. However, I do struggle with even just reading in general- I mean like the varying sentence structures of more advanced writing - basically I get to the end of reading stuff and am completely confused and don't take in anything I've read (and I'm not just talking about uni scientific stuff, I mean like just general non-fiction books in the library). Hence I would really appreciate some advice?

Also how to I motivate myself to read 20 pages of stuff I barley understand, and I feel I have to spend ages just trying to understand one paragraph?

For a university student I feel my english reading and writing skills aren't the best, but on the other hand I'm extremely strong at maths and decoding data etc. (which is what we will have to do in this workshop too). I somehow managed to get 60% on my essay last year, which I am so proud of (I did a lot better in other areas at university, but I was especially proud of this as I got 20% above the pass mark and its like my weakest area, it took a lot of work for me though)!!!


  • plugitinplugitin Noob Posts: 2,197 The Mix Regular
    Hey apandav,

    This might seem backwards - but have you considered reading the conclusion to the paper? This will give you a summary of the finding and the most important points. You could read this and try to understand that in detail (because then you will have a brief understanding of the paper) before moving on to trying to understand the rest of the paper - without having to read the literature review and background etc. You can then link what you're reading back to what you have read and it will hopefully make sense.

    If you have friends doing your course too, could you meet before this class on Thursday and maybe discuss it between yourselves / try to each read a section and give a summary - that may break it up a little.

    Finally, don't panic. Probably everyone in your class will be in the same boat - but you'll be taught how to interpret these papers with time :) I remember being faced with some horrible economics ones when I did my masters and it was pages of formula and had no idea what to do - but through practice you will learn.
  • apandavapandav :) Posts: 2,072
    Hey Kate,

    Thanks for your reply :) I decided to leave it for today- after all I go back to uni tomorrow, so I thought I should have one last break before the work begins!!

    I am going to give your tips a shot, and I've decided to print out a paper copy too so I can highlight and take a few brief notes to summarise what has been said!

    I wont be able to meet them beforehand, as the workshop starts at 9, so its super early but I will probably ask them about it on tuesday as we are in for lectures that day!

    I know, I need to remind myself I'm here to learn and I don't have to get everything straight away as long as I try my best, and its about learning from my mistakes! (Like the head lecturers told me at our 1-2-1 meeting, that they don't expect us to be good at everything straight away as we are there to learn and that's what its about "learning")
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