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InfoSkills for Social and Behavioral Sciences

InfoSkills @ TiU

Scholarly communication: Journals

Different types of scholarly articles

Not all scholarly articles are the same. In fact, there are several different types of scholarly articles:

  • 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 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 often 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: these are relatively short articles that provide insight and opinion on recently published scholarly books (monographs). 

Structure of a scholarly article

Scholarly articles contain the following components:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
    • Literature review (may not be labeled as such)
  • Article text/body
    • Research articles have 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.

Book reviews published in scholarly journals are typicallly NOT peer reviewed.