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COMM 01 Young: Reading Scholarly Journal Articles

Fundamentals of Speech

Anatomy of Scholarly Articles in the Sciences & Social Sciences

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

The table below describes the components of scholarly journal 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.

How To Read a Scholarly Article

Western Libraries (2:34)

Examples

Scholarly Journal Article - Sciences & Social Sciences

Scholarly Journal Article - Arts & Humanities

Anatomy of Scholarly Articles in the Arts & Humanities

Scholarly journal articles in the Arts and Humanities are set up differently than in the Sciences and Social Sciences. Articles may read more like essays, rather than reports on scientific experiments. 

In the humanities, scholars are not conducting experiments on participants but rather are making logical arguments based on the evidence they have researched and analyzed.

In literature, for example, a scholar may be studying a particular novel of an author. In history, a scholar may look at the primary source documents from the time period they are studying.

The following sections are generally included in humanities scholarly articles, although they may not be clearly marked or labeled. 

Abstract A summary of the research provided at the beginning of the article, although sometimes articles do not have an abstract. 
Introduction Provides background information for the topic being studied. The article's thesis will be found in the introduction, and may also include a brief literature review.
Discussion/Conclusion The discussion likely runs through the entire article and is the main component of the article providing analysis, criticism, etc.The conclusion wraps up the article; both sections usually are not labeled. 
Works Cited List of sources cited in the article by the author(s).