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BIOL 3100: Conservation Biology: Dissecting Research Articles

Scholarly Journals - FAQ

Publications which include articles written by experts in their field of study. After conducting experiments & reviewing other literature on the topic, they submit their article to a scholarly journal, which is then reviewed intensly by a group of experts who determine whether the article can be published. This process can take up to two years.

Nothing! All three are just different names for scholarly journals.

Ask these questions when reviewing an article:

  • Does it have an an abstract, or summary, of the article?

  • Are Footnotes/References included?

  • Does the journal it's published in have an editorial board & review process for submissions?

  • Does it include language, or jargon, specific to the subject and field of study?

  • Is there a sections that includes original research or experimentation results?

  • Are the author's credentials listed show they are expert scholars (PhD, Dr)?

  • Was it published by a professional organization (American Medical Association's Journal of the American Medical Association, the National Council on Family Relations' Journal of Marriage and the Family)?

Library databases allow you to limit your search results to scholarly journals.

  • Trade Journal: typically from professional organizations in a specific field, but no peer review process. They are a great way to find out current issues and practices in a specific field.
  • Popular magazines: like Time, Newsweek, Vogue or Sports Illustrated. These articles are written by journalists and are for the general public.

Anatomy of a citation

Anatomy of a citation

Identifying Primary Research Articles

Examples of Scientific Primary Research:

  • Article or conference proceeding reporting on a scientific study or experiment
  • Patent
  • Dissertations

A primary research article typically has the following format:

Titles indicate what the study is about, the author(s) & their credentials

Abstracts provide a brief summary of the article

Introduction/ Literature Reviews introduce the topic, reviews previously published research related to the topic, and states the hypothesis - a statement of what the researchers expect to find from their study.

Methods describe how the study was conducted which can include sample sizes, control variables, instruments and procedures used to collect data.

Results the findings of the study and whether the hypothesis were found to be true.

Discussions explains how results contribute to the existing body of scientific knowledge, lists limitations of the study and suggests areas for new research.

Conclusions recap the results and discussion section.  

References/Bibliography list the sources the authors consulted when writing the article. This section is very useful for finding additional articles related to your topic.

--Source:  Subramanyam, R. V. (2013). The art of reading a journal article: Methodically and effectively. Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology. 17(1): 65-70. doi: 10.4103/0973-029X.110733