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SEMN 295: Plants and Human Health

Evaluating Scientific Research

Types of Articles

When researching, you will encounter many different types of articles. Here are a few examples to be aware of:

  • Empirical Study: Article that is structured around original research findings. The purpose is to relay what the researcher has found.
    • Randomized Controlled Trials are a type of scientific experiment where participants are randomly assigned to different groups and then compared to see the effects of an intervention
  • Systematic Review: Type of research study aims to answer a specific question by gathering and analyzing all of the available evidence on the topic. It is a rigorous and transparent process that follows a set of defined steps to minimize bias and ensure the quality of the findings.
  • Book Review: Book report written by a scholar published in a scholarly journal. Usually 1-2 pages with minimal citations


  • Find the original study or source
  • Scrutinize who conducted and funded the study and if it is biased
  • Look at the sample size of a study
  • Distinguish what type of study was conducted

Remember: Doing research in the sciences isn't about finding the results that best match your thesis; it is about finding the facts.

How Scholars Evaluate 

Lateral Reading

Practice becoming a Lateral Reader: verify what you're reading as you are reading it. 

Leave the site and open new tabs to judge the credibility of the original site.

  ♦  search for the site/article on fact-checking sites

  ♦  search for the owner or publisher of the site

  ♦  follow references back to the original sources

  ♦  research what other sites say about the source