Physical Therapy

Use this guide as a starting point for your research in the area of physical therapy as well as topics in general health, physiology and kinesiology.

How to Analyze a Scholarly Article - Questions to Guide Your Critique

Analyzing Scholarly or "Peer-Reviewed" Articles

Identifying common elements in a journal article

Look through the images and notes below to learn more about the various parts common to a scholarly article

The Citation information: Authors, Article title, Journal information and Abstract
  • As shown in the image below, much of the citation information about the article appears on the first page. Here we see the title of journal, page numbers, and the publication date.
  • Multiple authors are common in search and they usually include academic affiliations that are listed just near the authors' names, as shown in this image, or as a footnote at the bottom of the page. 
  • Also on the first page, you can often see the abstract to the article, which is common.

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Image of the first page of a journal, showing the titles, publication info, the abstract. Text added to the image is found in the text before this image.


In-Text Citations
  • As show in the image of the article text below, you can see that in-text citations are common. This article also shows the contact information for the main author. 

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image of the text of a journal article, pointing to the in-text citations and use of foot notes. Also shows the common location for contact information for the original author.


The Methodology or Experiment
  • Common to these articles is a section where their research process is explained.
  • This method or experiment section lays out the process by which the researchers conducted their project. This section will provide all the details for replicating an experiment such as materials used, equations, etc.

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image of the article text, showing the methods and experiments section. Text from image appears in list before this image.

The Results and Discussion
  • You should always expect to see a results and discussion section at the end of the article
  • These sections can be presented separately or under one heading. Results give jus the facts of the experiment without any interpretation.

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image shows the results and discussion sections of the article - text in the image is written in the section above.


Data - Tables and Charts
  • Throughout the article you may see charts, tables, graphs or diagrams depicting the data collected through the study.

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image of some charts and graphs that appear within the article. The notes in the image are written out in the text above.


The References
  • One of the easier ways to tell a scholarly source are the list of citations you'll see. Academic literature always includes a reference list. Citations give credit to the source of information and show that research is based on a solid foundation. 

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image of the reference page. Notes within the image are written in the text above the image.

Important information about scholarly journals

The parts of the articles, as well as images showing what these parts may look like, are outlined below.
  1. Scholarly journals are often referred to as Academic Journals, Peer-Reviewed Journals, and Research Journals
  2. Purpose: Scholarly journals are educational and serve to share information and original research between scholars in particular academic disciplines

(click on image to enlarge)this is an image of 4 covers of journal articles, showing how specific their contents are and how complex their titles. Text included in the image are listed in item 1 and 2

  1. Subject Matter: Articles contain very specific and specialized information. Usually articles are reports of research on narrow and subtle aspects of a particular field of study
  2. Language: Language is appropriate for scholarly dialog; articles often contain context terminology, jargon, or mathematical formulas used in a particular field of study

 (click on image to enlarge)this image is a screenshot of a journal article, pointing out the complex language in the article and includes the text in points 3 and 4

  1. Format: Articles have abstracts that summarize the content of the article. Articles are often long and complex, typically with standardized sections such as Introduction, Literature Review,  Methods, Results, Conclusion, and Discussion 
  2. Graphics: Journals are mostly text-based and often look "plain" with few photos or graphics. Graphics and charts often illustrate research results or statistics

​(click on image to enlarge)this image shows a screenshot of the results section and includes the text in points 5 and 6

  1. Bibliography: All sources are cited in a bibliography
  2. Authors: Authors are academic researchers or specialists in their field whose articles have passed scrutiny and review by peers/fellow specialists in their field; author affiliations (title, degree, academic position held) are usually mentioned in the article

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This is a screenshot of a journal article pointing out the citations and author section and includes the text from points 7 and 8

  1. Publishers: Journals are usually published by educational institutions, professional organizations, or non-profits

Book Reviews and Editorials

Book Reviews and Opinion Editorials are NOT Scholarly

The image below shows a book review and outlines important aspects or parts that can help you evaluate the source

  1. The title of the book being reviewed in this article is called "Tell This Silence: Asian American Women Writers and the Politics of Speech" and it is written by Patti Duncan. The name, ISBN, cost of the book, and other info to help you find the book is listed before the start of the article's text. 
  2. The author is listed as Deborah M. Mix - she wrote the review (like an opinion piece) about the book "Tell This Silence: Asian American Women Writers and the Politics of Speech"
  3. She got the review published in the scholarly journal called "Modern Fiction Studies"
  4. Even though Deborah's article is published in a scholarly journal the article itself is not considered a scholarly journal article, since it is simply a review based on someone's opinion. It differs greatly from the research-centered articles that are also housed in the journal.

(Click on image to enlarge)

(Description of the linked article Tell this Silence: Asian American Women Writers and the Politics of Speech) 1.	Tell this Silence is the name of a published book written by Patti Duncan 2.	Deborah M. Mix wrote a review (like an opinion piece) about this book 3.	She got that review published in the scholarly journal Modern Fiction Studies. 4.	Even though Deborah’s review article is published in a scholarly journal…the article itself is NOT considered a scholarly journal, since it is simply a review based on someone’s opinion

Below, you can click on the link to access the full article where you can see the original PDF of the article as it appeared in print inside the journal.

Video: How to Read a Scholarly Article

Source: "How to Read a Scholarly Article" by University of Illinois Undergraduate Library, is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

Learn how to read a scholarly article by following these steps: 1. Read the abstract 2. Read the conclusion 3. Read the first paragraph or the introduction 4. Read the first sentence of every paragraph 5. Read the rest of the article