06 April 2018

How to read a scientific paper 3

This artist’s impression shows how the Milky Way galaxy would look seen from almost edge on and from a very different perspective than we get from the Earth. The central bulge shows up as a peanut shaped glowing ball of stars and the spiral arms and their associated dust clouds form a narrow band.
So let us continue with an example on how to read scientific papers. 
In the previous posts I chose an article Discovery of Gamma-Ray Emission from the X shaped Buldge of the Milky Way. You can find a full article for free at arxiv.org. And if you feeling posh, you can also buy the version that was published in Nature. 
Here is a ‘triage’ average grad student uses when reading scientific papers, and I will follow that ‘triage’ here. Links will lead you to the previous posts that covered previous triage steps. 
3. Read conclusion/summary
4 Read the paper in details.
And now let us do the third step. 


Because this is a Nature paper, the conclusion is not clearly marked in the paper itself. In the average paper, there is a section marked with either Conclusion or Summary at the very end. 
However, scientists tend to follow this structure in Nature papers as well, it just needs to be dug out. 
One starts from the end of the paper and read upwards, paragraph by paragraph. The good starting point is above Acknowledgements. Those are definitely the last part of any paper. (Yeah, no one worries about spoilers while reading scientific papers.)
I glanced at several paragraphs and seems like that the last paragraph before Acknowledgements is the closest thing we get to the conclusions.
So the last paragraph talks about how they combined luminosities of the X bulge and the Galactic bulge and where that leads to. This paragraph looks more as an end of the discussion, but it does say basically that with the new models used in this paper when one combines Galactic bulge and X bulge the emitted Gamma rays match the stars one can find in those two bulges. Something we already know that paper is stating. 
So in the next post, we will tackle the reading of the whole paper in details. 

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