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Twitter Ethics Research

Understanding Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Articles

Scholarly articles include articles that report on original research, often called primary source or research article, and articles that synthesizes the results of research done by others, often called reviews or meta-analyses. Reviews and meta-analyses can also be refered to as secondary sources. Both types of articles are useful, but in your time as a student you may be asked to find one or the other for different assignments. Research articles, reviews, and meta-analyses are generally peer-reviewed. See the boxes to the right for more information on peer-review

Identifying a research articles

Research articles are sometimes also called primary sources because the are a report of original research. If you have been directed by your professor to include a primary source in a project you are working on you may feel a little lost. Here are some pointers on how to determine if the article you found is a primary source.

A majority of research articles published in the sciences follow the same format and have the same components:

  1. Abstract - Summarizes the article. The abstract is found at the beginning of the article, and often times on the database entry page for the article. 
  2. Introduction - States the research question or hypothesis and provides background information on the research. 
  3. Materials and Methods - Describes the materials and methods used in the research. 
  4. Results - Lists the results, frequently in tabular or graph form, without commentary or discussion. 
  5. Discussion - Highlights and discusses the important results. The discussion may also highlight potential flaws in the research as well as point out where more research is needed.
  6. Acknowledgements - Thank individuals for their contributions to the research process.
  7. Works cited - List of the materials cited in the article.  

Scanning an article for these seven components will help you determine if the article you are looking at is a research article. Review articles may follow a similar format, but they will list databases and search strategies under the materials and methods. 

Keep in mind the research looks different in different fields. The materials and methods for research in the social sciences looks very different from the materials in chemistry.