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Radiology: Recognizing Scholarly Journal Articles

Introduction to Radiologic Sciences and Health Care

Scholarly Journal Articles

Scholarly articles include original studies and review articles that contribute to the current scholarship on a given topic. They are written by experts for other experts and are published in journals, many of which are peer-reviewed, meaning that they have been reviewed by other experts before being published. In the Sciences, researchers shares the results of scientific experiments. In the Social Sciences, researchers share the results of social experiments, interviews, surveys, etc.


Anatomy of Scholarly Science & Social Science Articles

The table below describes the components of scholarly articles in the Sciences and Social Sciences. The majority of articles in these disciplines will have the sections listed below.

Abstract Brief summary of the article, including research question, methodology and results.
Introduction Background information about the topic, leading up to why this study is being done, and may include a brief literature review.
Methods Description of how the study procedures, set-up and how data was collected.
Results/Findings Presentation of the data from the study. This section often includes tables, charts, or other visualizations of the data.
Discussion Analysis of the data and how the study relates to existing knowledge of the topic. The authors evaluate whether their results answer their research question. 
Conclusion The authors wrap up the article by discussion how their study contributes to the research on this topic and outline future  potential research questions or studies. 
References List of resources that the authors consulted when developing their research and subsequently cited in their article.

Peer Review Process & Reading Research Articles

Research Articles

Even if an article is peer-reviewed, it may be helpful to know that the findings may not be that significant and that there are varying levels of scientific evidence.

  • What methodology was used to conduct the study?
  • What is the study's sample size?
  • What is the statistical significance of the findings?
    • What was the risk to begin with?
    • What else could be causing something to happen?
    • What is the margin of error?

For a quick read, check out Professor Liberty Vittert's article "Numbers in the News? Make Sure You Don't Fall for These Three Statistical Tricks" (2018).

Levels of Scientific Evidence