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Public Health 103 (Ramírez)

Health Communication

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.

Also called:

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

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.

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.

  • 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. 

Both original (empirical) articles and literature reviews are useful. One is not better than the other.

Both are:

  • published in journals
  • often peer-reviewed
  • written by experts in the field

They are different in one important way.

  • Original articles report the findings of one research study the authors conducted themselves.
  • Review articles report on the findings of a variety of research studies that others conducted.

Literature reviews point you to the original (empirical) articles.

Types of Scholarly Articles

VCU Libraries (3:25)


Which is the original (empirical) article?
Article A: 35 votes (89.74%)
Article B: 4 votes (10.26%)
Total Votes: 39

How Do You Know Which One is Which?