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PSY105: Introduction to Psychology: Scholarly Articles

Scholarly Articles

Before you start looking for articles, it's important to understand a bit about scholarly articles. Also included in the understanding of scholarly articles is to learn about peer reviewed articles and evaluating articles!

Structure of a Scholarly Article

What might you find in a scholarly article?

  • Abstract: brief summary of the article
  • Introduction: general overview of the research topic or problem and what others have found on the same topic
  • Methods: information about how the authors conducted their research
  • Results: Key findings of the author's research
  • Discussion/Conclusion: summary of the results or findings
  • References: citations to publications by other authors mentioned in the article 

Scholarly vs. Popular

In academic research, it is important to distinguish between scholarly and popular (non-scholarly) sources. While one can argue the value of both, the scholarly sources are the ones that are usually preferred when doing academic research.

The following is a table comparing the general characteristics of these two types of sources: 

Characteristics Scholarly Popular
Contents In-depth, original research, usually undergoes peer review process Current events, popular topics, interviews
Author Scholars, academic, experts in the field Journalists, may or may not be experts in the field
Audience Professors, researchers, experts in the field General public
Language Specialized vocabulary Simple language
Citations Footnotes, bibliographies, works cited Sources rarely cited

How to Read a Scholarly Article

Is This Article Relevant to My Research? A Guide To Skimming- See outline after image

Created by Zoe Weinstein, Academic Outreach Librarian for the Humanities, Brandeis University

Outline of Chart:

Is This Article Relevant To My Research? A Guide to Skimming

Step 1: Read the Abstract: The abstract is a summary of the article. By reading this, you can get a sense of the content, The scope of the research, the author's methodology, and the academic level of the article.

Step 2: Read the Conclusion: Authors usually repeat their main ideas and their final findings in the conclusion. This will give you an overview of the article and help determine if it is relevant to your research.

Step 3: Read the First Paragraph of the Introduction: This is usually where an author lays out their plan for the rest of the article. This can help you determine which sections of the article you should read in full. 

Step 4: Read the First Sentence of Every Paragraph: This first sentence (or topic sentence) will convey the main idea for that paragraph. See something interesting? Read the rest. 

Step 5: The Rest of the Article: Now that you've determined what's most important, remember to at least browse the rest of the article!

Creative Commons License
PSY105: Introduction to Psychology by Diana Hellyar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License unless otherwise noted.

This guide has been edited, updated and adapted in January 2024 from the original as cited above by Lauren St. Pierre and retains a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License unless otherwise noted.

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