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Scholarly Sources

What is a Scholarly Article?

The Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

When working with scholarly sources, it helps to be familiar with the typical structure of research articles (ie. articles presenting new research).

Scholarly articles that present the details of a new research study - common in the physical sciences and some of the social sciences - usually have a similar structure, including section headings, as well as tables and other graphic illustrations presenting statistical information. These sections include:

Abstract: a brief summary of the article, focused on the study's objectives, methodology and results.

Introduction (or Background): explains the reasons for the study, the authors' objectives and the study's relevance to the subject.

Literature review: a systematic review of existing knowledge and theory on the topic. The review identifies and critiques the most important previous studies that have addressed the topic, and explains how the new research addresses questions that have not yet been satisfactorily answered.

Methodology (or Methods): the details of the research study, including set-up, performance and data collection.

Findings (or Results): the key data, or statistics generated from the data, including their significance and validity.

Discussion: analysis of the results' meaning and how they relate to existing knowledge of the topic. The discussion should explicitly evaluate whether the results answer the authors' original questions and whether they support their hypotheses.

Conclusion: analysis of the importance of the research study and its findings, their implications for knowledge of the topic and recommendations for further studies.

    References: the conclusion should be followed by a list of endnotes or a bibliography with complete publication details.

Scholarly articles that present theoretical analysis or analysis of a text - common in the humanities, fine arts and some of the social sciences - are usually published as a continuous piece of writing, without section headings or statistical illustrations.