Intentionally flawed manuscripts as means for teaching students to critically evaluate scientific papers

Biochem Mol Biol Educ. 2018 Jan;46(1):22-30. doi: 10.1002/bmb.21084. Epub 2017 Aug 31.


As future scientists, university students need to learn how to avoid making errors in their own manuscripts, as well as how to identify flaws in papers published by their peers. Here we describe a novel approach on how to promote students' ability to critically evaluate scientific articles. The exercise is based on instructing teams of students to write intentionally flawed manuscripts describing the results of simple experiments. The teams are supervised by instructors advising the students during manuscript writing, choosing the 'appropriate' errors, monitoring the identification of errors made by the other team and evaluating the strength of their arguments in support of the identified errors. We have compared the effectiveness of the method with a journal club-type seminar. Based on the results of our assessment we propose that the described seminar may effectively complement the existing approaches to teach critical scientific thinking. © 2017 by The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 46(1):22-30, 2018.

Keywords: Critical reading; journal club; scientific writing; seminar.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Research Report* / standards
  • Science / education*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Teaching*
  • Universities