It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Scholarly or peer-reviewed articles are written by experts in academic or professional fields. They are excellent sources for finding out what has been studied or researched on a topic. This tutorial will address how to analyze these articles.
Anatomy of an Original Scholarly Article
Original, scholarly articles common to scientific literature (including physical and social sciences) found in peer-reviewed journals often follow a specific formula:
The Anatomy of a Scholarly Article was developed by NC State University Libraries and is used under a Creative Commons license.
①Title: Often the title uses professional language and terms.
②Abstract: The abstract is a summary of the main article. An abstract will include brief information about why the research study was completed, what methodology was used, and something about the findings of the author(s).
③Author(s): Authors are always identified and they represent credible institutions. Frequently there is an ethics statement.
④Introduction, Background, or Literature Review: This section provides information on who has done related research, what that research has or has not uncovered and how the current research contributes to conversation on the topic. This is typically where the thesis statement or hypothesis is found.
⑤ Methodology: This section details how the author(s) went about doing research. It should let you know what method they used to gather data (i.e.. surveys, interviews, experiments), why they chose this method, and any limitations of using this method
⑥Results: This section allows author(s) to talk about what they found in their research study. It may include data in the form of tables and graphs that directly supports the text.
⑦Conclusion/Discussion:This section(s) allows the author(s) to write about what they found and what they think it means. Sometimes authors use this section to draw conclusions about the research and link it back to the thesis statement or hypothesis. This section may also tell you about issues related to the research and if there are future opportunities to build off of the research in this article.
⑧References and Sponsors: The end of scholarly articles contain a list of works cited (references) by the author(s). If research was funded by a specific company or agency it is also typically listed near the end of the article.
Steps to Read Original Research
Reading a scholarly journal article does not need to be daunting. Here are some suggestions:
① Read the Abstract and skim the Introduction (look specifically for the thesis statement) and Conclusion or Discussion section. These sections should tell you what the authors intended to prove, quickly how they went about it and what happened with the particular study.
② Read the Methods and Results section. These are likely the most complex parts of the article. But, these sections will detail the author(s) methodology and the results of their research.
③ Re-read and take notes. As you are reading, try to answer the follow questions about the article:
How does this research fit into what is previously known? How is this research unique?
How was the study designed?
How is this study relevant?
Who does the author represent and how was the study funded?