Author - Michael Upshall

Sifting and evaluating academic articles using Scholarcy

Getting a clear insight into what an academic article is about takes time. It’s perhaps not surprising that researchers are good readers, but effective research involves two quite different kinds of reading: reading at scale, and detailed evaluation. Researchers read at scale to carry out the initial scan of an article. Using the standard figure for adult reading speeds of 300 words per minute, and given an average length of article as 4,133 words (based on a count of 61,000 [...]


Can automation make you a better researcher?

With many skills, such as learning a language, playing an instrument, or learning to ski, we often think that if only we spent more time on the task, we would reach our goals more effectively. But is the same true for all aspects of academic research – for example, screening the literature?  Does spending more time screening research papers always make for better research? Honing strong research skills isn’t just about devoting more time Getting proficient at academic research is in [...]

Diagram showing how citations work

How to make citations work harder for you

A fundamental component of scholarly research is reading, and citing, other people’s work. One effective way to get more context and a deeper understanding of a subject is to look at the citations to, and from, an article. Science is one long trail of citations. Apart from the very first academic article, published in January 1665, every article has had earlier papers to draw on, to agree with, or to refute. And even the first article must have been based [...]

Making content accessible

Making published research more accessible

Accessibility has been a consideration of web design for almost as long as the web has existed. Accessibility guidelines are arguably well understood, and relatively straightforward to implement when it comes to websites and apps. Academic books and articles, however, predate the internet by many years, and it may seem that academic articles are the most unlikely starting points for accessible text. At first sight, articles can look very daunting – full of technical abbreviations, and demanding considerable prior [...]

managing citation

How to effectively manage citations

One of the cornerstones of the academic article is citations. Scholarly knowledge proceeds by recognising the work of others, which means by citing published articles and books, and then using that knowledge to create some new theory or idea that is different in kind to what came before. After the new paper has been published, others will critique it, might agree, or disagree with it, and so scientific knowledge continues to evolve. As Newton wrote, in a 1675 letter [...]