scientific paper

Vocabulary in.. Reading scientific papers

Posted by on November 1st, 2018 | 0 comments | IELTS, listening, practice, reading, speaking, vocabulary, writing

Read about how to read a scientific paper, and pick up ten new vocabulary items along the way. Test your new vocab using the flashcards on this page!

  1. the faint-hearted
  2. People who don’t have the courage to take risks.
  1. dense
  2. Adjective to describe things, or material that is packed tightly together.
  1. makes sense
  2. It seems reasonable or believable, given the evidence.
  1. embrace
  2. Accept an idea or a practice readily.
  1. open access
  2. A trend in academia according to which researchers share their work freely among each other.
  1. engage with
  2. Become actively involved with a discussion, a person, or a thing.
  1. a closely kept secret
  2. Information that you don’t want anybody else to know about.
  1. half truths
  2. Claims that are only 50% true.
  1. be wary
  2. Proceed with caution.
  1. picky
  2. Careful about which option you choose.
Reading scientific literature is not for the faint-hearted. It’s dense, and very often full of foreign terms and ideas.

It also assumes a basic understanding of the discipline in question. I can’t imagine that many people outside the world of theoretical physics are reading journal articles on the subject. That makes sense: research has found that scientific literature across disciplines is getting more complicated.

But as more and more journals embrace the principles of open access, and more information becomes freely available online, curious readers are probably more likely to start engaging with scientific literature. That’s a good thing. Research shouldn’t be regarded as a closely kept secret for a small number of people. In a world full of half truths, simplistic and misleading summaries, and outright “fake news”, being able to read and engage with scientific literature can be a powerful weapon.

Of course, you can also seek out examples of scientists writing for the public. But be wary: not all scientists are willing to do this; we are, on the whole, very picky about details and don’t like generalisations. So try to engage with scientific literature where you can: it will be hard work in the beginning if you have no scientific background, but it’s a skill that can be developed.

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