Reading a Paper

If reading research is new to you, consider the following questions as you read:

  • What is the study’s objective/hypothesis/question?
  • What is the rationale and relevance of the question? (i.e. why was the study done?)
  • What is the relevance of this topic/question to Emergency Medicine? (i.e. is it urgent or essential reading for an Emergency Medicine practitioner?)
  • What methodological approach (design, analysis, etc.) has been used? (i.e. what was done?)
  • What were the results of the study? (i.e. what did the investigators find?)
  • What were the strengths & weaknesses of this study? Are the results valid? (i.e. its study design, appropriateness of the method(s), relevant study group, sufficient sample size, appropriate study conduct, data gathering, subject follow – up, influences of bias, method of analysis, discussion, current relevance and comprehensiveness of the listed references, etc.)
  • Do the conclusions follow logically from the design and results?
  • How do the results relate to current practice and how might they influence future practice? (i.e. what does the answer mean anyway? So what and who cares?)

There is a series of articles by JAMA which describe how to read and understand research in more detail.

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