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InfoSkills for Social and Behavioral Sciences

InfoSkills @ TiU

Scholarly sources: Journals

5 article types that scholarly journals publish

  • Theoretical articles present new or alternative ways of thinking about a subject, challenge existing theory, or synthesize recent advances and ideas into new theory. 
  • Research articles (also called original or empirical articles) report of new research. In the sciences, economics, and the social sciences this is a highly valued article type. Research articles typically include an extensive description of how the research was done and what the results mean. 
  • Review articles (also referred to as 'reviews') summarize the current state of knowledge about a research topic. Recent reviews are very helpful to quickly get an overview of a topic.  
  • Case studies are reports in which an individual, event or phenomenon is the subject of study. Purpose is not to generalize, but to let others know similar things (e.g. a medical condition, job stress) may occur elsewhere.
  • Book reviews are relatively short articles that provide insight and opinion on recently published scholarly books (monographs). These articles are not considered scholarly even though they are written by scholars, but they can help identify suitable books that are.  

Structure of a scholarly article

Scholarly articles are composed of the following components:

  • Article title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction or literature review
  • Article text/body
    • For research articles the article body typically consists of 2 parts: a Methods and Results section.
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
    (may be part of the Discussion section)
  • References

Volumes & issues, publishing frequency, pagination

Most scholarly journals are published quarterly. They are usually continuously paginated -- page numbers don’t start over with each new issue of the journal published, but continue counting up throughout each volume. For example, when volume 20, issue 1 of a journal ends on page 151, volume 20, issue 2 begins on page 152. The page count is only reset with a new volume (e.g. when volume 20 finishes and volume 21 begins).

Peer review 

One of the cornerstones of science is 'peer review', also known as 'refereeing'. Peer review is the process whereby an article is assessed for quality by his or her peers (experts working in the same field) before it's published. Articles that have undergone peer review are called 'peer reviewed' or 'refereed'. The peer review process is used by most scholarly journals.

Watch this short video to learn how peer review works:

Source: North Carolina State University Libraries. Published under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US license.

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Book reviews published in scholarly journals are typicallly NOT peer reviewed.