How to Interpret a Research Paper when it’s All Greek to You?
‘It is all Greek to me’ is a common idiom in language, which denotes to a situation when you cannot understand something. When you cannot interpret a research paper, you would say, it is all Greek to me. It means that you are unable to comprehend the research paper.
Interpreting a research paper is not difficult if you know how to approach the paper and how to dissect it. This article will tell you how you can interpret a research paper that is difficult for you to understand.
Why interpretation of research papers is important?
You have to interpret a research paper when you are doing research. You need to analyse the research paper, and therefore you need to interpret it. Interpretation of research papers is crucial for your research.
Interpretation of a research paper is also important for habitual readers who want to increase their knowledge about the current research. You will have to evaluate the sources and identify the strengths and weaknesses in the study’s findings.
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It also helps you engage with the discourse critically and develop arguments for your research paper. Reading a research paper is a skill that is crucial to grasp the significance of research and incorporate it into the literature review.
If you do not know how to interpret a research paper, you will not be able to write a critical literature review. Moreover, if your research paper’s literature lacks interpretation of various research papers, it undermines your research. You cannot possibly justify the significance of your research if you do not know how to interpret a research paper.
How to interpret a research paper?
You can interpret a research paper by doing some basic things. You can use the following techniques to interpret a research paper:
1-Get a Bird’s eye view
Reading techniques are essential to interpreting a research paper. The classification of reading techniques is as follows:
Skimming is a reading technique when you read the text quickly. A quick scan of the research paper gives you a rough idea of the contents of the research paper.
Reading for Gist
Reading for gist refers to reading a research paper to get a general idea.
Reading for Information
Reading for information is more specific. It is a reading technique through which you read the text to extract specific information.
It is important that you must be familiar with the above-mentioned reading techniques. Knowing how to read is the first step to interpret a research paper.
So, the first step involves doing a bird’s eye scan of the research paper. You can do a bird’s eye scan of the research paper based on your reading capacity and comprehension of difficult words.
But usually, it takes between ten to fifteen minutes. You can take the following steps to get a bird’s eye view of a research paper:
2-Read the title
The title of well-written research papers is concise yet comprehensive. You can get an idea about the topic, and it will give you a notion about the nature of the discussion. So, read the title carefully.
3-Read the Abstract
An abstract is a summary of the entire research paper. The research states the key issue of the research along with the key findings and conclusion.
You can get a general idea about the contents of the research paper by reading the abstract carefully.
4-Read the Introduction
The introduction section contains the research context, research problem, hypotheses, research questions, and significance of the study. So, read the introduction section.
5-Read the chapter headings and sub-sections.
You are only reading the research paper to do a quick scan at this stage. So, ignore other things and just read the title headings.
6-Read the conclusion section
Once you do a quick scan of the research paper, you can interpret a research paper. You can analyse the paper by asking the following questions:
- What is the nature of this research paper?
- What are the aims and objectives of this research paper?
- What theoretical frameworks were used to analyse the research problem?
- Is this research problem related to other studies? What is the relevance of this research paper for my research?
- What is the validity of the assumptions?
- What are the implications of this research?
- Are the ideas developed coherently?
Once you get a bird’s eye view and formulate the above-mentioned questions, the second step to interpret a research paper is to go into extra detail. The next phase to interpret a research paper involves the following steps:
Read the paper thoroughly now and read all the details
- Download the paper or print it, depending on your convenience. Use a highlighter to identify the complex arguments and key findings. Use the comments option in MS (Microsoft) Word or Adobe reader and add your comments.
- Dissect the comments into separate statements. Dissecting the arguments will help you understand how the author developed ideas.
- Identify the patterns in the research paper. Pattern identification will help you interpret a research paper. Make sure to examine the consistency in the arguments and their relevance to the original research problem.