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Writing 116 (Koehler): Original Research or Review?

Writing in the Natural Sciences

Types of Scholarly 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.

A deficit in the ability to form new human memories without sleep

Review articles 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. There are 3 types of review articles:

  • Narrative Review: a literature review that describes and discusses the state of the science of a specific topic or theme.
  • Systematic Review: a comprehensive review of all relevant studies on a particular topic/question. The systematic review is created by following an explicit methodology for identifying/selecting the studies to include and evaluating their results.
  • Meta-Analysis: the statistical procedure for combining data from multiple studies. This is usually but not always presented with a systematic review. 

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?

Original Research OR Review?

Original Research Article OR Review Article?
Original Research: 6 votes (20%)
Review: 24 votes (80%)
Total Votes: 30
Original Research Article OR Review Article?
Original Research: 27 votes (100%)
Review: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 27

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.