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Research Articles and Peer Review: Identify scholarly work

Components of research articles

Research articles will generally have some version of the following headings. However, it is important to remember that not all research articles will have all of the headings listed, and they may contain some headings not listed below. Therefore, the following information should be used as a guideline when looking for research articles. Here's what to look for:

  • Title
  • Abstract – helps to determine relevance of article to the reader’s interests.
  • Introduction/literature review
  • Purpose of the study/hypothesis/problem statement
  • Methodology/procedures/research design
  • Major findings/results/analysis/discussion
  • Summary/conclusion/ideas for future studies/implications
  • Works cited/references/acknowledgements
  • Notes
  • Appendices
  • Tables, charts, figures, statistical data (throughout the article)

Identify research articles

Listed below are some clues to help identify research articles. However, it should be noted that numerous exceptions occur for all of the points listed below. Therefore, the following information should be used as a guideline when looking for research articles

Topic: Research articles tend to be highly specific in nature, relate to a particular field, or specialty within a field, and are written by authors who have done research in the field.

Audience: The target audience is other researchers, colleagues, students and specialists in the same field. Research articles are written for the scholarly community, rather than a general audience.

Language: The language of research articles is formal, generally does not use the first person, and includes jargon used in the field. Research articles are written to contribute to the knowledge base of the discipline.

Length: research articles can vary in length, but are typically five to fifty pages long.

Authors: Research articles may have numerous authors. The organization, institute or professional society the authors belong to will be listed.

Content: Generally the article is written at a sophisticated enough level that the reader will need to read the article more than once in order to understand and evaluate the article.

Identify refereed journals

Listed below are some clues to help identify refereed journals. However, it should be noted that numerous exceptions occur for any and all of the points listed below. Therefore, the following information should be used as a guideline when looking for refereed journals

Issue identification: Each issue has a publishing date, volume number and issue number. Generally a volume number is consistent throughout the calendar year, with each issue assigned a corresponding number e.g. vol. 55, issue 4.

Length: A refereed journal may have one to fifty articles, with most having eight to eighteen.

Advertising and graphics: Very little, if any, advertising is included in refereed journals. Any advertising that is included will directly relate to the field. Generally journals of this nature do not have photographs and use black print on white paper. The size of the journal may vary in size from a small paperback size to a large magazine format.

Table of contents: In addition to research articles, refereed journals may contain book reviews, literature reviews, and essays. Therefore, just because an article is published in a refereed journal, it does not necessarily mean that it is a research article!

Publishing: Refereed journals are usually published regularly - once a week, once a month, every quarter, or annually. The majority of journals are published four to six times per year and are often published by a professional society, organization or research institution.

Editorial board: Refereed journals have a peer review process. The editorial board is listed (generally at the beginning of the journal) along with the organizations they are affiliated with. Information about what types of papers are chosen for publication, the selection process, the length of papers accepted, and how to submit a paper is also provided.

Indexing: A listing of where the refereed journal is indexed is often provided.

Title: The title of a refereed journal usually has an "academic" sounding name.

Availability: The location, call number, and availability of the journal can be determined by using the online catalogue or online databases.