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First Year Seminar: What is a Scholarly Article?

Academic Articles

Academic, or scholarly, articles are articles published in academic journals that have undergone a peer review process. Academic articles are extensively researched and written by academics, who are often people like your professors!

Academic articles usually feature original research, whether it's an experiment or study the author(s) did, or a critical interpretation of a piece of media. You may also encounter academic articles that feature literature reviews, which explore the most influential pieces of writing on a topic. 

Your professors will usually require that you use at least one academic article when you start writing research papers. Most of the databases have an option to limit the sources you see to academic journals or peer-reviewed sources. If you're not sure where to find this limiter, ask a librarian!

Tips for Reading Academic Articles

  • Skim the article first. Make sure it covers your topic in a way that helps you, paying particular attention to the Abstract, Methods, and Conclusion sections. Once you've decided to use the article, you should go back and read it in more depth.
  • Search the article for key specific concepts, people, or terms. To do this, hold down the Control+F keys on your keyboard (or Command+F if you're using a Mac) to open the Find function, then type in the word or phrase you want to search for.
  • Make sure you understand the article. It's okay if you don't understand every single detail of it, but you should understand it enough to discuss it in your paper. Look for background information or look up terms you don't know! 
  • Highlight or take notes on the article. This will help you to keep track of pieces of information and quotes that you want to discuss in your paper.
  • Save a citation for the article. This will help you find the article again later if the link stops working, or if you don't have access to the PDF on your computer. 

What is Peer Review?

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