‘finding an article’ exercise

One of the competency we try to help our students acquire is the capacity to inform themselves on a new (biology) subject through the reading of scientific articles. We do that in the framework of the preparation of posters (poster1, poster2). This year we tried to structure a bit more the search phase.

First the students were provided with a small exercise in which they had to present an article, ahead of the time for preparing the poster. They had to answer a series of questions inwrinting. The questions were:

– How did you find it? 
what were you looking for? –> a paper on a specific subject? a review? etc…
where did you start from? –> wikipedia? pubmed? g scholar? research gate? etc…
how many did you screen? –> at the level of the title, abstract, figures…
what tools did you use? –> pubpeer? some watch list? sci-hub?

– Why is it useful? 
Why this one? –> because of the information? how do they handle copyright?

– What is in the paper? 
what is the main information found in the abstract?
For each important figure/table present: a) the question that is addressed; b) the methods c) the results) the conclusion that can be drawn from these results

After correcting their answers, I would draw a few conclusions:

  • their work was generally excellent
  • they have learned many tools and concepts, including what is a paywall or the possibility to check for comments on pubpeer, not to mention the fact that tools like sci-hub are both practical and illegal (thus they can take the decision to use it or not… being informed adults)
  • their remains way to make the objectives even more clear/explicit. I have therefore prepared a second version of the questions:

I would be very happy to have any remarks/advised on this document!

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