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SUNY Geneseo Fraser Hall Library Subject Guides


INTD 105 The Modern Age in America: Analyzing Scholarly Articles

Not all articles are the same...

By Collective, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62858409Scholarly and Peer Reviewed articles have similarities, but don't expect them to all follow a standard format, especially between vastly differing disciplines. However, they do hold some similar characteristics and as you learn to recognize them, you will know what you're using in your research.

Be sure to scroll down to see a video on how to quickly scan & analyze a scholarly article.

 

Image credit: By Collective, CC BY-SA 3.0

Research Articles in the Arts and Humanities

Due to the different nature of the research done in each discipline, scholarly articles are set up differently within the Arts and Humanities disciplines as opposed to the Social Sciences or Physical Sciences.

A&H articles will read more like essays, rather than scientific experiments. As a result, there is no standard format or sections/headings to look for as in the Social Sciences or Physical Sciences. Although an article written in an essay style may seem more approachable to read, remember that the authors are still writing for other experts in their fields, so they may still be difficult to read because of specialized terminology and jargon from the discipline.

In the Arts and Humanities, scholars are not conducting research experiments on participants but rather are making logical arguments based on the evidence they have, which often comes from other texts. In literature, for example, a scholar may be studying a particular novel of an author. In history, a scholar examines primary source documents from the time period being studied.

The following components are generally included in Arts and Humanities scholarly articles, although not always - and they may not be clearly marked. In fact, each article you read on a topic will have different section headings, if any, which have been decided upon by the authors and editors of that specific research article.

Common Article Components

Abstract This brief summary is sometimes included, but sometimes not. 
Introduction This section gives a lot of background information for topic being studied and tends to being lengthy. The thesis will be found within the introduction, although it is not limited to a single sentence. A Literature Review may also be included here, but not always.
Discussion/Conclusion Unlike a scientific article, the discussion likely flows throughout the entire article and does not have its own discrete section. The conclusion may not be as neatly wrapped up in a humanities article as it is in the sciences. The results of the paper may not be definitive.
Bibliography The complete list of resources/materials (articles, books, journals, etc) consulted by the author(s)  in their research on this paper.
This is the product of an expert scholar conducting research on your topic of interest. Always look through their bibliography to see if there may be other materials that can help with your own research!

 - based upon the research guide, "How to Read Scholarly Articles: The Anatomy of a Scholarly Article" from City Colleges of Chicago.

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

Click on the image to explore.

Research Articles in the Sciences

Research articles include original studies which advance the current scholarship on a given topic. Disciplines within the Social Sciences and Physical Sciences favor presenting their findings in original (or, primary) research articles, as opposed to the lengthier book form.

The table below describes the components of scholarly articles in the Social Sciences and Physical Sciences. The majority of research articles in these disciplines will have the sections listed below (although they may be titled differently), but occasionally some do not. 

Common Article Components

Abstract

This is a brief summary of the article, including methodology and results.
Do not quote from the abstract in your papers.

Introduction This is the background information about the topic of research. It includes the reasons for why the study is being done.
Notice that there are usually lots of names and years in parentheses (in-text citations); this indicates the literature review.

Methods

Explains how the study was done and gives the details of the research, including set-up and how data was collected.
Results/Findings

Presents the data from the study. This section is recognized by the math with lots of numerical date; it will often includes charts, tables and graphs in order to visually represent the data.
 

Discussion Here is the analysis of the data, and how the study relates to existing knowledge of the topic (see the literature review, above). The authors evaluate whether the results of their study actually answered their research question.
Conclusion The authors wrap up the article by discussing how their study adds to the existing knowledge on the topic and outline potential research for further studies.
Bibliography The complete list of resources/materials (articles, books, journals, etc) consulted by the author(s)  in their research on this paper.
This is the product of an expert scholar conducting research on your topic of interest. Always look through their bibliography to see if there may be other materials that can help with your own research!

 - based upon the research guide, "How to Read Scholarly Articles: The Anatomy of a Scholarly Article" from City Colleges of Chicago.

Quickly Scan & Analyze a Scholarly Article

Selecting the research materials you will include in your project will take a fair amount of time, depending upon the scope of that project.

On the surface it seems that the obvious way to decide if an article is appropriate for your topic is simply to start reading at the beginning and through to the end, but that's not actually the case. Here's a 3-minute video with some hints for a more effective strategy: