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CMST 213 Social Media (Neffenger)

Understanding Scholarly Articles

Understanding Scholarly Articles

When reading scholarly articles, you may want to pay special attention to certain sections, such as the Introduction or Conclusion. Below you'll find a description of how peer-reviewed articles are organized and what you'll find in each section.

Don't be afraid to "skip" sections of a peer-reviewed article-- for example, you can start out by reading the Introduction and the Conclusion, and then decide the article is a good fit for what you need. (You can always come back to the other sections later.)

Parts of a Research Article (Public Speaking example)

Identifying the Parts of an Scholarly Article

  • The Citation information: Author, Article title, Journal information, and Abstract
    • In the image below, you will notice that this article includes information about the article's sections (Background, Methodology, Findings, and Conclusions) in the Abstract. Information about when this article was created is also included --notice the peer review process takes some time, in this case from April - July-- and citation information.

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Peer Reviewed Article- citation information


  • In-Text Citations 
    • If you have a reference that is a number, as shown in the image below, these are "footnotes" or "endnotes."  Look at the bottom of the page or the end of the article for reference:

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example: in-text citations

  • The numbers here correlate with the in-text citations inside the paper.

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endnote example


  • Essay or Experiment / Analysis?
    • Peer-reviewed articles have different organizations depending on their purpose: articles in the Humanities are often organized as essays that look deeper into a work or idea. This article will not be broken into sections, but just like the essays you would write for a class, the beginning will have some introduction to the content, and the end will include some conclusions
    • Peer-reviewed articles that cover experimental research findings or analyze results may be organized differently-- having "Introduction," "Methods / Experimental," "Conclusion / Discussion" and "Reference" sections

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example of conclusion section of article


  • The Introduction
    • The Introduction section helps explain what studies have come before this research (the "research conversation" and what exactly this article will be looking at.

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Good & Bad Hand Gestures_speech Introduction

  • The Methods/Experimental
    • This is often the largest part of a research article, experiment paper, or analysis, located in the middle of the article. Here the authors will describe what they did for their experiment (or the evidence they analyzed) and how they examined or sorted it

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Methods example

  • Results
    • The 'Results' section details what the authors found in their study.

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Results example

  • Discussion and Conclusion
    • The Discussion / Conclusion section (articles use both terms) will give some interpretation of the results of the article, including whether more research is needed or if any conclusions or recommendations can be made.

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Discussion example


  • References
    • Academic (scholarly) articles always include a reference list. Citations allow other researchers to find the sources the author used, give credit to other researchers, and show that the article has a solid foundation - which establishes its authority.

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Article - reference example

The Peer Review Process

Source: "Peer Review in 3 Minutes" by libncsu, is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

Learn how the peer review process works and why it is so rigorous.