What is an abstract?
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: “An abstract is a brief summary of a research article…conference proceeding or any in-depth analysis of a particular subject or discipline, and is often used to help the reader quickly ascertain the paper’s purpose. When used, an abstract always appears at the beginning of a manuscript, acting as the point-of-entry for any given scientific paper or patent application. Abstracting and indexing services for various academic disciplines are aimed at compiling a body of literature for that particular subject.”

How to Read and Assess Research Articles [from the American Association for Cancer Research]

“Once you have located a research article on your topic, it helps to approach it with an understanding of how it is organized and what it is attempting to accomplish.

Articles vary in format, but in general follow a logical scheme. They begin with a section that looks at the background to the study and an explanation of why the authors chose to do the experiment. Then comes an explanation of how the researchers carried out the experiment, followed by their findings and their conclusions.”

For the complete online article, click the link in the above title.

Understanding the Publication and Format of Cancer Research Studies [from Cancer.net]

“Publishing research studies is the primary way scientific professionals use to communicate their findings. They may publish original research or write a review article, which evaluates the existing body of published research on a particular topic. Well-designed research studies can help answer important questions about the biology of cancer, investigate new treatments, and identify areas for further study. Of course, the goal of research is to improve the care and treatment for patients with cancer.

Although the intended audiences for most cancer research studies are medical and scientific professionals, it is becoming more common for patients and their families to read studies while researching information about their cancer type and the treatment options. However, because research studies are written in a specific format and use scientific terms, it might be hard for a person to understand and interpret them. This article…is designed to help you better understand the publishing process, the format that journals and other scientific publications use to share findings, and how to find studies of interest to you….”

For the complete online article, click the link in the above title.

Understanding the Cancer Study Research Design and How to Evaluate Results [from Cancer.net]

“Researchers can design medical studies in different ways, depending on the question they want to answer and the best way to answer it. No study design is perfect; each has strengths and drawbacks. When evaluating the results of a study, it is important to know its design so that you know if the results apply to your situation.”

For the complete online article, click the link in the above title.

Scientific Journal Articles [from the American Association for Cancer Research]

“The challenge of reading a scientific article is worth the effort when you consider that all of the major journals contain articles that have been appraised by experts prior to being accepted for publication. This process—called peer-review—helps ensure that published results are scientifically valid and grounded in evidence, not just reflecting someone’s political agenda or wishful thinking.

Scientific journals publish a few types of pieces. The two most common are the research article and the review article. A research article (which can also appear in a shorter form called a “letter” or a “research note”) is peer-reviewed and presents a complete description of a new research finding, and typically follows a standard format (read more about this format on the next page). A review compiles the results of many different studies on a topic into an overview of that field.”

Statistics [from the American Association for Cancer Research]

“Scientists use mathematical tools collectively known as statistics to rigorously analyze the information they collect and make sense of their findings. When statistical tools are applied to biological problems, it is sometimes referred to as biostatistics. Studies depend on statistics to take unwieldy amounts of data and describe them in a manageable way and to test the significance of varying interventions on outcome (for example, if a drug had a real effect on a disease).”

For the complete online article, click the link in the above title.

National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy

The NIH Public Access Policy ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH funded research. It requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication. To help advance science and improve human health, the Policy requires that these papers are accessible to the public on PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication. PubMed Central (PMC) is the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature.

How can I get a copy of an article if free full text is not available?

If free full text is not available, copy the citation and check with the reference librarian at a local public or college library for assistance in obtaining a copy of the full article. If there is a medical school nearby, the librarian may be able to provide free public access for patients or caregivers.