There is more than one kind of scholarly article, and knowing more about the categories of scholarly literature can help students choose the best sources for their own research needs. Following are definitions that may clarify the distinctions.
Also called refereed articles, those that have been reviewed by peers in the author’s discipline. The peer review process usually includes revisions to the original manuscript before it is included in a scholarly journal. Peer-reviewed articles include primary articles that contain original research and secondary articles that review, summarize, analyze, or interpret original research. Many library research databases offer tools that allow students to limit their search results to only peer-reviewed articles.
This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license.
Empirical research articles are primary sources that report the findings of new research. Empirical research is a rich source of statistical data that can lend support to a thesis. These articles are usually peer-reviewed by experts before they are published, and papers are formatted to include the following sections:
Introduction: the research problem including questions the researchers aim to address.
Methods: how the researchers will gather information to examine the research problem.
Results: how the key findings relate to the research problem.
Discussion: how the researchers interpreted the findings, and recommendations based on those findings.
References: sources used by the researchers to document previous research used to design their own study.
The Anatomy of a Scholarly Article video by North Caroline State University Libraries will help you distinguish articles in scholarly journals from articles in popular magazines..
Review articles synthesize the existing research on a topic in order to familiarize the reader with the body of knowledge on that topic.
Systematic review articles methodically and thoroughly review all of the literature about a particular research question and synthesize the research to provide evidence for decision-making.
Meta-analysis articles combine or contrast the findings of a number of studies focused on essentially the same research question in order test hypotheses against multiple research studies, and to strengthen overall understanding of a topic.