Reviewing and Summarizing Science: A guide on how to navigate through and ocean of paper  - 15 to 18 May

Last changed: 29 March 2017

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Science* (*But Did Not Ask)

This course will take up the below four objectives from two viewpoints: the official version and a look behind the scene of science. The objectives of this course are to learn


(1) how to review a manuscript,

(2) how a publication becomes a key publication,

(3) to write a literature overview and to summarize the key findings of a paper in 1-2 sentences,

(4) how to use conferences to your advantage


This course aims at helping students to understand how to navigate scientific publications and the process scientific communication. While there is nothing that can replace conducting sound science, there are also many "soft skills" and unwritten conventions in academia that are beneficial to have/ know about.


Course details:

Day 1:

Topic of the day – Key publications

  1. How do I identify key publications?

(Journal impact factor, citations per year, and so on)

  1. How and why do these papers become key publications?

(Case studies of key publications and how they came about)

  1. Seminar: Read key publications and research their publication history. Where they the first to publish a new finding or were they the first well-written high impart paper to publish an idea that had been around for some time. Compare “Key publication” with the publications preceding it. Discussions until midnight. Be sure to bring beer and snacks.


Day 2:

Topic of the day – How to read a paper

  1. Brief introduction about the common structure of different types of articles (research article, literature review, and so on…)
  2. The importance of the abstract.

(Practice to summarize the important information of research papers into 1-2 sentences within 10 minutes. With some practice you can do it in 3 min.)

  1. Discussions: Why can some papers not be read? Students bring examples of articles that they struggled with.

Is it worth working your way through a badly written paper? When should a paper just be laid aside? And how do I know if a paper is difficult or just badly written?


Day 3:

Topic of the day – Write a literature overview

  1. Every year since 2009 I write a literature overview on “Substratum associated microbiota”. For each I sort through approximately 500 titles, read 300 abstracts and summarize circa 150 articles.  I will give practical tips on how to write a literature review in 2 weeks. This involves tips on how to best use tools such as EndNote.
  2. Hands on exercise on doing just that during the afternoon.


Day 4:

Topic of the day – Conferences

  1. One conference is better than 3 month of article reading – if done right – and more fun. 
  2. How to pick your conference. How to pick your session and your talks.
  3. What to do during the conference to make the most of it.

A good presenter will often cite the key references in their field (write them down). Go to the plenaries in your field. Take notes, pay attention ASK QUESTIONS.


Examination: Active participation and writing of a literature review according to Scrimgeour & Pruss (2016).


Literature: Taylor BW (2016) Writing and effective response to a manuscript review. Freshwater Science 35(4):


Scrimgeour GJ, Pruss SD (2016) Writing highly effective reviews for a scientific manuscript. Freshwater Science


Silver P


External teacher: Antonia Liess, lector at Halmstad University, Associate Editor of Freshwater Science.


All lectures will be public and given at MVM.

Please register to Please also inform us if you would like to participate by video, we will then check possibilities.


Time: 15-18.May 2017

Place: MVM building, SLU Uppsala

Points: 2 ECTS