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How to Read a Scholarly Journal Article: Journal Articles

Types of Scholarly Journal Articles

Scholarly journal articles include original / empirical studies and review articles that contribute to the current scholarship on a given topic. 

Types of Scholarly Articles

VCU Libraries (3:25)

Examples

Original / Empirical Review
based on an experiment or study. This type of article will have a methodology section that tells how the experiment was set up and conducted, a results or discussion section, and usually a conclusion section. In psychology courses, you are often asked to find empirical articles. Empirical articles are original research articles. Literature Review Systematic Review Meta-Analysis

written to bring together and summarize the results/conclusions from multiple original research articles/studies. This type of article will not usually have a methodology section, and they generally have very extensive bibliographies.

a form of literature review that comprehensively identifies, appraises, and synthesizes all relevant research on a specifically formulated question.

combines carefully selected data from previous empirical studies to bring more rigor to a statistical or other analysis.

Be Aware of Statistics

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. All the article does is report on the findings.

  • 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