Skip to Main Content

Research Guides

CHM499: Introduction to Chemistry Research

The resources in this guide will help you through the CHM499 research process from start to finish.

Attend the In-Person Workshop!

The information below is a quick summary of strategies, tips, and resources to help you effectively read the scientific literature. For more in-depth information, we encourage you to attend Workshop #1: How to Read, Search, and Manage the Scientific Literature this fall! More details are available on CHM499 Quercus site homepage.

Reading the Literature

Scholarly articles provide:

  • Current information on novel research
  • Detailed research methods and materials
  • Data that can be used in your own analysis or reviews

Reading scholarly articles can seem confusing or intimidating at first - but all it takes is a little practice and planning! 

The Three-Pass Method

The Three-Pass Method helps to organize your reading. It makes reviewing scholarly articles more manageable by breaking down your reading into three steps. Each pass accomplishes specific goals, and builds upon the information gained in the previous pass. 

  Purpose Sections to Read Next Steps
The First Pass Obtain a general idea of the paper   

1. Titles and Authors 

2. Abstract and Introduction

3. Section and Sub-headings

4. Conclusion

5. Glance over the references

After 5 minutes you should have a solid understanding of the paper highlights. 

You can now decide if the paper is still helpful to you. Discard the article if it: 

  • Doesn't interest you 
  • Doesn't contain enough relevant information 
  • The area is outside your scope 
The Second Pass Grasp the concept of the paper 

1. Results & Discussion

2. Conclusion 

You should be able to summarize the main points of the paper (and their supporting evidence). 

You can now decide to: 

  • Discard the paper 
  • Store it somewhere safe to return to later 
  • Persevere and move onto the third pass! 
The Third Pass Fully understand the paper

1. The remainder of the sections (Materials and Methods, References, Considerations) 

Pay attention to the details! 

You should be able to explain the structure and logic of the paper, and identify its strong and weak points. 

You are ready now to incorporate these points into your research, or move onto another paper! 

Evaluation: The 5 C's

The Three-Pass Method uses the 5 C's to determine if a paper is appropriate for your use. After the first pass examine the questions below to evaluate the suitability, validity, and trustworthiness of the paper. 

  1. Category: What type of paper is this?
  2. Context: Which other papers is it related to?
  3. Correctness: Do the assumptions seem to be valid? 
  4. Contributions: What are the authors' main contribution(s)? 
  5. Clarity: Is the paper well-written? 

Additional Resources