Journal reading is an important continuing educational activity in terms of physician preference, frequency of use amount of time devoted to it and impact in changing practice. Clinicians trying to obtain information from journals face several tasks, including the need to assess both the quality and the applicability of the information found in published articles. This article describes the general principles for reading, critically, scientific papers that report clinical research results, which include establishing the kind of question that the authors were trying to answer, the type of study done, if the research design was appropriate for the question, and if it was conducted correctly. According to several available guidelines, once the reader has a clear idea of the study question it is necessary to assess the methods described by the authors in order to evaluate whether the research strategy used is likely to have errors resulting from bias and chance (random) variation. If the paper methodology seems to be adequate, the reader should proceed to determine the results of the article and their potential clinical impact. Finally, the reader must establish the extent to which the results are helpful in caring for his or her own patients, which means assessing the external validity and other related issues. The use of these strategies will improve the efficiency of readers for incorporating research results to their practice.