What makes up a Scholarly Article?

On occasion your professor may ask you to find scholarly (or research or peer-reviewed, or refereed) articles about a particular topic. But how do you know if you have found a scholarly article? Here's a quick dissection of what to look for in a scholarly research article in most science and social science disciplines.

Section of the Article Example
The citation to the article occasionally gives us clues as to whether the article is scholarly or research-based. For example, if the title of the journal has "Journal of" or "Research" in it these are often indications that the articles within are of a scholarly nature.
The abstract gives you a brief summary of the article. If the article is research-based, the abstract should say what kind of research project was conducted and summarize the overall findings.
The introduction sets up the main research question that the article seeks to answer and why it is important to answer this question.
The literature review describes the research that has already been done on this topic and often explains how this research has informed or shaped this article.
The methodology describes what the researchers actually did, how many subjects they used and how they controlled the study to insure that the data was accurate. In some ways, this is the most important part of the article because if the methods used to collect the data aren't any good then the results won't be very good either.
The results are where the authors interpret all the data they have collected. This can be another area where things can go wrong. Researchers are human which means they can make mistakes and sometimes they see connections where there are none. Be critical!
The conclusions is where the authors wrap-up what they learned from their research and often suggest areas of study that should be pursued in the future by other researchers.
The references give you the full citations to other materials on this topic that the authors used throughout the course of their research. This is how researchers give each other credit for their work. This is also a great place to look for other articles and books that may be useful for your own literature review.

Still unsure about whether you can discriminate between scholarly and popular periodical sources? Click here and you can print a guide to the different types of periodical sources available.

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