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Why Journals?

Simply, journal articles contain the most up-to-date research about your field. 

If you were studying in traditional college environment, at one point or another, reading articles published in academic and professional journals would (or at least should) be a requirement. You might read these articles as part of a review for a paper you are writing, or your instructor may even ask you to write a critique of an article. 

If you are going to develop a deep and complex understanding of your craft, you will find that it is essential that you understand what you are reading and find ways to summarize the content in your own words. This goes to the heart of being able to write a great blog.

Journals will;
  • Help you understand what has already been discovered and what questions are still unanswered. 
  • Give you insight on what still needs to be done in the field and use that to design innovative, future forward solutions.

Reading an Article

  1. Read the abstract; make sure the paper is what you were looking for and is worth your time and effort.
  2. Review the background information and get an idea of how the experiments were performed.
  3. Examine each figure and table.  Try to draw your own conclusions from the figures.
  4. Review the results section. 

Reading journals full of stuffy research articles can be hard work. Technical and challenging terminology aside, the hardest part of deciphering an article is assessing the strength of the evidence. 

Quality of Evidence

  • When you are assessing the quality of the evidence, the most important thing to look at is how the data is collected. 
  • Most mistakes occur in how the data is collected as opposed to how the data is analyzed.
  • Analysis errors tend to be less frequent and less serious, but keep in mind, better data analysis can result in a different conclusion.
Basically, my point is, if they collected the wrong data, it doesn't matter how fancy their analysis is, because it is rendered irrelevant.

You don't need a lot of fancy training to assess how the data was collected. Just ask yourself the following when reading a journal article;
  • Did the study seem to be trying to prove a pre-existing conclusion or did it go wherever the science took it?
  • Is the sample size and make up appropriate to the study's goals? Who was left out?
  • Was there a good comparison group?
  • Do the data and math support the conclusions?
  • Does the study reflect the authors understood and addressed the difference between cause and correlation?
  • Is the sample size and make up appropriate to the study's goals? Who was left out?
  • Do the references check out?


It's likely you will come across unfamiliar vocabulary and concepts, so it's a good idea to have Google or Qwiki on standby to speed up searches.
You should also be a Google Search expert, I cheat and just use this page: Google Interactive Features Page.

If you're spending hours looking up information and not making any progress, then consider putting it aside to a later time. Read others reaction to the article and attempt to find a more general information about the topic and then return to the article after you're a bit more informed.

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Journal NamePublisherURLSubjectAbout
Journal NamePublisherURLSubjectAbout
Computational Linguistics MIT Press Journals - Currently free, but requires sign-up View @ Natural Language Processing Systems Computational Linguistics is devoted exclusively to the design and analysis of natural language processing systems. Get information about computational aspects of research on language, linguistics, and the psychology of language processing and performance. 
International Journal of Design International Journal of Design is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal. View @ Design The International Journal of Design is devoted to publishing research papers in all fields of design, including industrial design, visual communication design, interface design, animation and game design, architectural design, urban design, and other design related fields 
Publishing Research Quarterly Springer New York View @ Humanities, Social Sciences and Law Significant research and analyses on every aspect of the publishing industry. 
Social Network Analysis and Mining Springer New York View @ Computer Science Experimental and theoretical work on social network analysis and mining using different techniques from sociology, social sciences, mathematics, statistics and computer science. 
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning MIT Press Journals - Currently free, but requires sign-up View @ Digital Media Examines the effect of digital media tools on how people learn, network, communicate, and play, and how growing up with these tools may affect a person's sense of self, how they express themselves, and their ability to learn, exercise judgment, and think systematically. 
Showing 5 items