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«Nothing makes you feel stupid quite like reading a scientific journal article» — writes the TV presenter and molecular biologist Adam Ruben. In a way, he's right — many of us get lost in the often confusing language of peer-reviewed papers. But the situation does not have to be hopeless. A bit of effort on the readers' part can go a long way. We looked at the techniques actual scientists use to navigate academic content. And compiled them into this two-part guide (Part 1: Getting Better at Understanding Academic Papers).