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CJA & MPA Graduate Program: Library Research Introduction: Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

CJA & MPA Graduate Program: Library Research Introduction

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

WHAT ARE THE PARTS OF A SCHOLARLY ARTICLE? 


We've already discussed the differences between articles in newspapers, articles in magazines (popular sources), and articles in scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals.  But what are the key components of a scholarly article, and why is is important to know them? 


LET'S START WITH THE KEY PARTS OF A SCHOLARLY ARTICLE 

  • ABSTRACT
    • ​An Abstract provides a brief synopsis of the article.  The synopsis includes a succinct explanation of the previous science published on the topic, a description of the methods used for the study, and an overview of the results.  Keywords that can be used to search the article are also provided.
  • INTRODUCTION / LITERATURE REVIEW
    • ​​The Literature Review can be one of the most confusing concepts in research.  The Literature Review (sometimes called the introduction) is a compilation of all of the previous science published on the subject of the article. The Literature Review sets a backdrop to the methodology and results of the study.
  • METHODS / METHODOLOGY
    • The methodology is an explanation of the scientific process used to collect and analyze the data from a particular study.  For example, we want to conduct a study that analyzes whether consuming one glass of red wine daily reduces the chances of having a heart attack.  The methodology would describe the participants of the study, the materials used in data collection, the process in which the data is collected, the variables involved within the study, and the problems that the study encountered.  The methodology is heavily scrutinized during the peer-review process because it is the cornerstone of each individual study.
  • RESULTS / DISCUSSION
    • This section describes the results of the study.  Specific statistical tables and values are often included in the results section.  The discussion portion describes the impact of the study based on the results in comparison to the previously published science compiled in the literature review.  This is normally the best part of a scholarly article to extract your citations from considering that this describes the important consequences of the study on science.  
  • REFERENCES
    • The references are simply a list of all of the previous publications used in the article.  This section is formatted in a citation style.  Occasionally, individual publishers, associations, or journals will utilize their own style.  Students in the social sciences typically use APA (American Psychological Association) style to format their papers.  The reference list is also a good place to find other articles while building your literature review.  This process is called chaining.

Tutorial - The Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

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Short Quiz

Question 1.) Which part of a scholarly article describes the process that was used to collect the data for the study? 

A. The references 

B. The discussion 

C. The methodology 

(C). - The methodology describes how the study was conducted. It is often one of the most scrutinized parts of the article when going through the peer-review process

Question 2.) What part of an article is a really good place to extract citations? 

A. The methodology 

B. The results 

C. The abstract

(B). - The results portion is where the study's impact on the science in that field is most prevalent. While it is okay to use any part of the article, the results, conclusions, and discussion represent the study's impact.

Question 3.) Why does a scholarly article include a reference list?

A. To avoid plagiarism and give credit to the original creators of ideas and language cited in the paper

B. To show that the paper builds off of previously published science in the field 

C. To provide a list of references that can be used for you paper, this process is referred to a 'chaining'

(ALL OF ABOVE) - A reference list provides the citations that give the original creators of the ideas used in the Literature Review credit for their their work. The reference list is also a great place to visit when trying to acquire other sources when you are writing a Literature Review.

Sample Article

SAMPLE ARTICLE