Academic Joy

Every researcher has a story to tell

Reading effectively an academic article


Here are some tips for reading effectively an academic article

• From the start, you need to know quickly if the article is really of interest to you and worth reading. Analyze the title, abstract and then the first part of the introduction and its structure. Immediately decide whether you should stop or keep on reading this article;

• Pay attention if possible to the identity of the author(s) and their affiliations. This can help you put the article in its context;

• Take some time to understand and put in context the title and keywords (under the abstract) chosen by the author(s);

• Read carefully the abstract to understand the motivation, objectives, methods and results proposed by the author(s). These elements should in principle act as a map for reading the rest of the article;

• Take a quick look at the structure of the whole article, its layout, organization, illustrations, figures, tables and number of pages. It gives you a sense, a first idea of how serious this article is;

• If your general impression is favorable so far, read the introduction of the article. As its name suggests, it should introduce you, set the stage, bring you into the context of the research and end up with a brief description of the structure of the article section by section;

• According to the structure announced in the abstract and described in the introduction, read the sections of the article.
Pay attention to :
o style of writing and relations between sections;
o validity of methods and partial results;
o relevance of figures, tables and illustrations;
o relation of ideas with known results in the field;
o originality of ideas proposed;
o references list and their citations in the text;

• Typically, an article contains sections that described the context (background), literature review, a methodology, discussions, perspectives and a conclusion. Each section serves a particular well known purpose;
• For example, an author often leaves doors open to further investigations on aspects of the topic in the perspectives or conclusion section.;

• The approach, methodology and claims in the article should be backed up by substantial results and a sound demonstration. Are you convinced that the author(s) achieved the objectives announced in the title and exposed in the abstract?

• If you need more information not explicitly available in the article, you may want to contact directly the author(s) of the article;

• Keep in mind that you need not read and understand an interesting article of several pages in a single day. Good things always take time.

More resources about reading and writing articles are available on the Academic Joy Web site.

Have a nice reading.

The PhD procrastination issue



Visit the  ”Resources section”  of  the “PhD Candidate” ( ) page for more details.

Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D.,  professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, and Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada  share with us their findings
on procrastination.


  1. Twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. For them procrastination is a lifestyle, albeit a maladaptive one. And it cuts across all domains of their life.
  2. It’s not trivial, although as a culture we don’t take it seriously as a problem. It represents a profound problem of self-regulation. And there may be more of it in theU.S. than in other countries.
  3. Procrastination is not a problem of time management  or of planning. Procrastinators are not different in their ability to estimate time, although they are more optimistic than others.
  4. Procrastinators are made not born. Procrastination is learned in the family milieu, but not directly. It is one response to an authoritarian parenting  style. Having a harsh, controlling father keeps children from developing the ability to regulate themselves, from internalizing their own intentions and then learning to act on them. Procrastination can even be a form of rebellion, one of the few forms available under such circumstances. What’s more, under those household conditions, procrastinators turn more to friends than to parents for support, and their friends may reinforce procrastination because they tend to be tolerant of their excuses.
  5. Procrastination predicts higher levels of consumption of alcohol  among those people who drink. Procrastinators drink more than they intend to—a manifestation of generalized problems in self-regulation. That is over and above the effect of avoidant coping styles that underlie procrastination and lead to disengagement via substance abuse .
  6. Procrastinators tell lies to themselves. Such as, “I’ll feel more like doing this tomorrow.” Or “I work best under pressure.” But in fact they do not get the urge the next day or work best under pressure. In addition, they protect their sense of self by saying “this isn’t important.” Another big lie procrastinators indulge is that time pressure makes them more creative. Unfortunately they do not turn out to be more creative; they only feel that way. They squander their resources.
  7. Procrastinators actively look for distractions, particularly ones that don’t take a lot of commitment on their part. Checking e-mail is almost perfect for this purpose. They distract themselves as a way of regulating their emotions such as fear  of failure.
  8. There’s more than one flavor of procrastination. People procrastinate for different reasons. Dr. Ferrari identifies three basic types of procrastinators:
    • arousal types, or thrill-seekers, who wait to the last minute for the euphoric rush.
    • avoiders, who may be avoiding fear of failure or even fear of success, but in either case are very concerned with what others think of them; they would rather have others think they lack effort than ability.
    • decisional procrastinators, who cannot make a decision. Not making a decision absolves procrastinators of responsibility for the outcome of events.
  9. There are big costs to procrastination. Health is one. Just over the course of a single academic term, procrastinating college students had such evidence of compromised immune systems as more colds and flu, more gastrointestinal problems. And they had insomnia . In addition, procrastination has a high cost to others as well as oneself; it shifts the burden of responsibilities onto others, who become resentful. Procrastination destroys teamwork in the workplace and private relationships.
  10. Procrastinators can change their behavior—but doing so consumes a lot of psychic energy. And it doesn’t necessarily mean one feels transformed internally. It can be done with highly structured cognitive behavioral therapy.
 Extracted from Psychology Today, 23 August 2003.
   In addition,  you may want to read the  ”Resources section”  of  the “PhD Candidate” ( ) page
on the Academic Joy Web site .  On this site,  you  will find  a pointer to   “The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things off … “

What is in an honest paper review ?





Dale J. Benos at the Department of Physiology and Biophysics,  University of Alabama stated  in “How to review a paper” (ADV PHYSIOL EDUC 27:47-52, 2003)  the following points about a reviewer’s responsibilities :


  1. The reviewer should provide an honest, critical assessment of the research;
  2. The reviewer should maintain confidentiality about the existence and substance of the manuscript;
  3. The reviewer must not participate in plagiarism;
  4. The reviewer should always avoid, or disclose, any conflicts of interest;
  5. The reviewer should accept manuscripts for review only in his/her areas of expertise;
  6. The reviewer should agree to review only those manuscripts that can be completed on time;
  7. The reviewer has the responsibility of reporting suspected duplicate publication, plagiarism, or ethical concerns ;
  8. The reviewer should write reviews in a collegial, constructive manner.

Given your experience in reviewing papers for journals, conferences, book projects, do you agree with these points or do you think  that there are other important aspects ?

A day in the life of …



I am pleased to start the first round of conversations with you by proposing a basic subject : life. Would you describe to us a typical day or a typical week  in your life as a researcher.

—– Français —–

Salut, Je suis heureux de commencer le premier tour de conversations avec vous en proposant un sujet de base: la vie. Voulez-vous nous décrire une journée typique ou une semaine typique dans votre vie en tant que chercheur.

—– 日本語  ——

こんにちは、  私はあなたとの会話の最初のラウンドを開始し、基本的なテーマを提案しています:人生を。私たちに研究者としてあなたの人生の典型的な一日または典型的な週を記述してください。


Academic Joy.





Academic Joy is an original idea of an academic who realized that behind the achievements of every reseacher there is a hidden story, an inspiring struggle, an emotional journey that should be told to the world. It is the other side of success made of obstacles, persistence and determination against odds.

The purpose of this blog is to propose to the research community interesting topics about important aspects of the life of researchers. We welcome suggestions, original ideas  and hope that these topics ring a bell in us and encourage all to engage in the conversation with others.

Thank you.

The Academic Joy team.

Follow this link and be banned from the site!