I am generally curious to hear what sort of technique/method people have to extract information from scientific articles, in order to write e.g. introductions.

I for instance, normally read an article in PDF, then read again and highlight "important/relevant" information. I end up going a bit back and forth to actually combine the information with other sources in my own introduction.

I know most people know not to start reading method first, and rather start with abstract and intro/discussion and things like this; however, does anyone have any good tips on more efficient ways of organizing the information I find, to make it easier for my self to use later?

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    Hopefully the answers here would help me do the 'related work' section faster... Even when I'm familiar with the articles, I often reread them to interpret the work in my current context.... Apr 12, 2016 at 19:14

1 Answer 1


For your specific example (introductions), I generally need to get through lots and lots of papers to sum up the state of science on a topic, so I read the abstract and the conclusions to make this time-efficient. The abstract should have the main result of the paper with statistical values to back it up, while the conclusions should have statements about the implications of the study and calls for future research. If something doesn't seem right about either, one could investigate the meat of the paper to decide whether to throw it out or save it for reference. Then, I use a program like Endnote and keep notes for how I would cite the paper. This helps me cite while I write.

As a big disclaimer here, there are some papers that might be considered seminal or groundbreaking in a field... these should be read from beginning to end because they represent major advances or shifts in knowledge, approach, etc. That's my take!

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