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The Scholarly and Peer Review Guide: How do you read a scholarly article?

Finding resources that are scholarly and peer-reviewed in the online databases.

Types of Journals

Compare Types of Journals

Retrieved from UNC Health Sciences Library. (2017).


Scholarly Journals

Professional Trade Journals

Newsstand Magazines


Researchers and experts

Members of the Trade/Profession

General Public


Researchers and experts

Staff writers and members of the profession

Staff writers, articles often written by groups, sometimes corporations


Always. Plus footnotes or endnotes; suggested resources for more information

Sometimes a brief bibliography, variable by profession, no footnotes or endnotes

Almost never


Publishers of scholary journals, a university press, or  a professional association

Typically associations or commercial groups

Typically commercial


Formal or semiformal scholarly language; may use jargon or technical terms that assum expertise in the field

Informal; may use technical or specialized jargon

Informal; written at or below the reading level of average high school students


Research reports and commentary

Trends, new technologies, workplace standards in the field

General interest and news


To disseminate findings from original research or experiments

To advance profession by covering issues and topics in the field

To inform and entertain


Good - the articles undergo blind reviews by other scholars

Average - articles undergo reviews, but articles are sometimes biased to support industry/vendors

Average to Fair - deadlines mean content review is limited, stories sometimes come from "third parties" where review is very difficult

How to read a Scholarly Article

Reading a Scholarly Journal Article

Qualitative Research Methods Described

Retrieved from


Image result for qualitative research methods

Quantitative Research Methods Described

Retrieved from


Image result for type of quantitative research methods

Parts of the Scholary Article Video





The bibliography of a scholarly paper is a list of references created in the format in which the paper is written. If the paper is written in APA, then a list of APA "References" are created, if in MLA then a list of "Works Cited" are created. The bibliography is a list of references of all the works cited in the paper, whether the information is a direct cite, quotation or in summary in the paper. Here is a link that defines and describes what a bibliography is:


Journal Authors

An article always has a set title, created by the author(s) and may have one or more authors. Here is an example of the title of the article created by three authors:

Will, M; Mackay, A & Phillips, A.


Will, M; Mackay, A & Phillips, A. (2015, June 30). Implications of Nubian-Like Core Reduction Systems in Southern Africa for the Identification of Early Modern Human Dispersals. Plos One, 1-21.



An abstract is a summary of an article, that provides the reader with the questions researched, and important points and conclusions made in an article.



Although heavily studied, researchers have barely examined the social and cultural aspects

of the Spanish Civil War. The aim of this article is to contribute to the sociocultural history

of the war by reintroducing the cultural elements into the analysis. By taking them together

with social and political factors, it provides a more complex outlook on the conflict. To

reach these goals, this study examines the experience of those who were on the front line

and those who remained in the rearguard. The first part explores soldiers’ conditions on

the front line and their connection with the rearguard. The second section analyzes the role

played by cultural elements among combatants and civilians. Finally, special attention is

paid to the influence of violence on the soldiers’ and civilians’ experience of war.


Hernandez Burgos, C. (2016, July). Bringing back Culture: Combatant and Civilian Attitudes during the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939.History 101(346): 448-463.



Article introductions generally provide a background for the study, and often defines and describes some of the major concepts that are important for the reader to grasp before they start reading the study. For example, a paper that describes Nubian core reduction systems as they are associated with late Pleistocene populations in Southern Africa suggests that there was a convergence of Northern and Southern African technologies in this article. But the article starts out describing vital pathways that need to be understood by the reader and are simply defined, before they go further with the article. The article is introduced in the following way

    "Similarities in material culture among populations can arise by three pathways: convergence (independent innovation), dispersal (movement of people) or diffusion (movement of ideas/objects or cultural exchange)" (Will, Mackay & Phillips, 2015).


Will, M; Mackay, A & Phillips, A. (2015, June 30). Implications of Nubian-Like Core Reduction Systems in Southern Africa for the Identification of Early Modern Human Dispersals. Plos One, 1-21.


Background and Literature Review

The background to an article, usually puts the article in context, explaining why this topic is important, why it was chosen and often what are the questions being posed are, around which the study as been created.

The literature review is a review of all the literature that has been written about the topic, from as far back as the author can go. That means that if the topic was being discussed in the 1850's, the author will need to include the major articles that were written about the topic starting at that time, and citing and discussing all the major contributions to the discussion that have brought since then that have an effect on the questions they have posed by the author in the present.



Richardson, J.C. & Swan, K. (2003, February). Examining social presence in online courses in relation to students’ perceived learning and satisfaction. JALN, 7(1). Retrieved from

The methodology of the article must fit the type of study described. For example, in this article below, a survey is conducted and analyzed. This is a mixed methods study (using both qualitative and quantitative methods). The study tests four hypotheses that were proposed at the beginning of the study in relation to the students' perceptions of the role of social presence in online courses.

The study participants were 97 students who had completed an online course at a  New York college in 2000. The students completed a survey at the end of the semester which used a quantitative correlational design to analyze its findings. That means that statistics were gathered from the survey and analyzed using correlation coefficients. Open-ended questions that were analyzed from the survey were analyzed using qualitative methods.



The results of a quantitative study is usually obtained through statistical analysis of the variables in the study, requiring the calculation of means, standard deviations and correlations. Quantitative studies require the reader to understand statistical measures, so that as these are interpreted by the author, the reader understand how the results were obtained through the statistical calculations. For example:


The results of mixed methods and qualitative studies are obtained by analyzing open-ended surveys or interviews by using qualitative methods of analysis.





Appendices are often used by the author to include additional materials that support and describe the study in-depth. Appendices may include tables, graphs, transcriptions, interviews, pictures/photographs, any materials that were gathered during the study and that would support it or provide the reader with additional information about it.


Discussion is vital!!


The article discussion section is usually well organized, and focused around topics of importance that have surfaced and that relate to the study's findings. In the Richard & Swan (2003) article, the author's findings are discussed by comparing these to the four hypotheses that were introduced at the beginning of this study and discussing the findings as they pertain to each of the hypotheses.


This section discusses each of the findings of the analysis in the order of the hypotheses advanced.


  1. Hypothesis 1: Students’ perceptions of social presence in online courses are related to their perceived learning and satisfaction with their instructor.

Correlational analyses clearly showed a relationship between students’ perceived social presence and students’ perceived learning. This supports the hypothesized relationship between social presence and perceived learning, as well as providing indirect support for the notion that social presence is in some sense cultured, such as differences in social presence indicate something more than media effects. Such findings link the “culturing” of social presence in online courses to increased student perceptions of learning, a first step, at least, toward actual learning.