Books on reading papers


Hi all,

I've just started a PhD in immunology, and I was wondering if any of you could recommend any books about reading papers critically. I've had a couple mentioned to me including one called "How to Read a Paper", but these seem more related to large scale medical studies rather than lab projects.

Has anyone read this, or any other, books about critical reading, and can offer comments/recommendations?


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I think it is just experience. The more you read, the more you are able identify rubbish papers, and what is rubbish about them. There will be some common criticisms for all the papers you read e.g. was conducted in a different sample e.g. America, is a cross sectional design, didn't control for variable X.

However, these are surface criticisms - only reading and getting to know your field will get you experienced enough for you to be able to critique it. I would start off with a metaanalysis or two and see how they have reviewed the field.


Hi 4matt,

yes "How to read a paper" (Trisha Grishalm?), is about critically appraising a paper. It provides an approach, e.g. relevance of the paper, quality of the journal, credentials of the authors, inclusion and exclusion criteria, potential bias, will it change your practice etc. I think it is orientated on clinicians who need to assess literature and what impact this could have on their clinical practice.

I think the principles are OK, yet perhaps these are not specific enough for immunological studies.