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Creating a Successful Search for articles   Tags: database, find articles, finding articles, research, search, search strategy, search techniques, searching  

This guide is intended to help users design a search statement to find articles in databases
Last Updated: Jan 9, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

What is a scholarly article Print Page

What is a Scholarly Article?

What is a Scholarly Peer-reviewed Journal?

You will often be asked to complete an assignment using scholarly or peer reviewed articles. This type of periodical article is generally found in a scholarly journal. A scholarly journal is a periodical that contains articles written by and for professionals or scholars such as historians, scientists and psychologists. These publications contain:

•articles about recent research in a particular field of study•articles that summarize the current state of knowledge on a topic within the field of study. Scholarly journals are widely regarded as a reliable source of information on a topic because each article is evaluated both by an editorial board and by experts who are not part of the editorial staff before it is accepted for publication. This process of evaluation is called the peer review or referee process.Other terms often used to refer to scholarly journals include: •peer-reviewed journal•journal •refereed journal •academic journal •research journal •juried publication Periodical articles from magazines or newspapers provide some basic information on a topic but usually lack the depth and authority of scholarly journal articles.

Characteristics of scholarly journals:

•authors of articles are authorities in their fields

•most articles are reports on scholarly research

•articles use jargon of the discipline or technical language

•articles have little or no advertising

•illustrations are usually charts and graphs

•articles are usually long (more than 5 pages) and include footnotes, endnotes and lists of references (bibliographies) citing the authors' sources

•journals are often published by professional organizations (such as the American Psychological Association)


How to Read a Scholarly Article

Scholarly journal articles reporting research are usually in this format.

  • Abstract: A brief summary highlighting rationale, methods and findings
  • Introduction: A brief review covering the theoretical background and earlier research on the topic, and giving reasons for the current research
  • Method: Details on how the research was conducted and what materials were used
  • Results: Details on findings and statistical tests, with summaries of data in the form of charts/graphs/tables
  • Discussion (sometimes embedded in Results section): Analysis, interpretations and implications of results
  • Conclusion (sometimes embedded in Discussion section): Summary of key findings and suggestions of future directions for further research

    How should I approach a journal article?

    1. Get some background knowledge on the topic first. Refer to your textbooks, as journal writers generally assume that you know the basics, and will be liberal in their use of terminology.
    2. Read for the author’s meaning. At this point, you are not looking for more information on the topic, but are focusing on the way in which it is being thought about. You can do this by:
      • Reading carefully to understand the author’s meaning. Ensure that you have understood what the author wants to say, and not what you think the author wants to say. Having defined the purpose of the article, draw up a brief outline of its contents to help you follow the writer’s flow of thought without getting sidetracked by too much detail.
      • Asking questions, e.g.:
        • What is the author’s theoretical basis?
        • What new aspect is being added to what is already known?
        • Especially for research reports: What is/are the author’s argument(s) in relation to supporting/rejecting the hypotheses?


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