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Writing 116 (Mele): Types of Articles

Writing in the Natural Sciences

Overview

Scholarly journals contain more than one type of article. In one issue of a journal, you may find original research articles, review articles, letters to the editor, reviews of books and other materials, and more. When you are browsing articles in databases, online, or in paper journals, keep the following questions in mind:

  • What is this piece's purpose?
  • Is this an original research article?
  • Does this article summarize the original research of others?
  • Why is this material included in the journal?

Journal example: 

Nature

Scholarly Articles - Key Article Types

scholarly articles

Review Article Example

Review articles summarize or synthesize content from earlier published research and are useful for surveying the literature on a specific research area.  Review articles can lead you to original research articles.

Example: The relationships between memory systems and sleep stages

Example: Pedestrian pathway characteristics and their implications on wheelchair users

Original Research Articles

Original research articles are based on an experiment or study.  The authors will report the purpose of the study, the research methodology, and results. This is a familiar structure for original research articles > IMRAD: introduction, methods, results, and discussion.

Also called:

  • primary research article/source
  • primary literature article
  • empirical research article

Note:

In describing the purpose of their study, authors will present a mini literature review to discuss how previous research has led up to their original research project.

Peer Review in 3 Minutes

North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries, 3:15

  1. What do peer reviewers do?  How are they similar to or different from editors?
  2. Who are the primary customers of scholarly journals?
  3. Do databases only include peer-reviewed articles?  How do you know?

Additional Article Types

research letter is a shorter version of a full original research article.  Be aware that this is not the same as a letter to an editor in an academic journal.

 

Letters are often written in response to articles, editorials, and other materials. They do not go through a peer-review process, but can give you insight into the scholarly conversation around a topic. They are not included in all databases, but you may find them included in some of them.

 

Research Notes are short articles.  They may be called short reports, technical notes, case reports etc.  Be aware that some limiters in databases may also include correspondence in a Notes limiter.

 

Obituaries are included in many journals. Related information includes listings of new jobs, projects, etc. Since fields are scholarly communities, this can allow for them to acknowledge the passages in their members' lives.