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Scholarly Articles: Home

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

How to "Read" a Scholarly Article

Shown here are the first and last pages of a scholarly article.  Click on each highlighted section to learn key features.  

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

Presented here are the first and last pages of a scholarly article. Click on the highlighted areas of the article to learn about clues to look for when identifying scholarly articles.

Click anywhere to continue.

(Nation et al., 2003)
Nation, K., Marshall, C. M., and Altmann, G. T. M. (2003). In-
vestigating individual differences in children's real-time sen-
tence comprehension using language mediated eye move-
ments. J. of Experimental Child Psych., 86:314-329.
Department of Computer Science
University of Toronto
Proceedings of the Workshop on Cognitive Aspects of Computational Language Acquisition
pages 41-48

The title of a scholarly article is generally (but not always) an extremely brief summary of the article's contents. It will usually contain technical terms related to the research presented.

Authors names and their academic credentials or affiliations will be prominently displayed in a scholarly article. Credentials (e.g. Ph.D.) and academic affiliations (such as current position at a university or research institute) may appear immediately following the authors' names, as in this example, as a footnote or sidebar on the first page or as an endnote to the article. The authors' credentials and/or affiliations are provided to establish their authority for this subject, and also to provide a point of contact for the research presented in the article. Authors' e-mail addresses are also provided in many recently published articles.

The abstract is a brief summary of the contents of the article, usually under 250 words. It will contain a description of the problem and problem setting; an outline of the study, experiment, or argument; and a summary of the conclusions or findings. It is provided so that readers examining the article can decide quickly whether the article meets their needs.

The introduction to a scholarly article describes the topic or problem the authors researched. The authors will present the thesis of their argument or the goal of their research. The introduction may also discuss the relevance or importance of the research question.
An overview of related research and findings, called a literature review, may appear in the introduction or may be presented in its own section. This review is part of the essential scholarly conversation, placing the current article in the context of prior research in this and related disciplines.

On the first page of an article you will usually find the journal title, volume/issue numbers, if applicable, and page numbers of the article. This information is necessary for you to write a citation of the article for your paper.

The information is not always neatly outlined at the bottom of the first page; it may be spread across the header and footer of the first page, or across the headers or footers of opposite pages. For some internet versions of articles, it may be necessary to collect this information from the website itself. Library databases provide this information in citation tools.

Charts, Graphs, and Equations

Scholarly articles frequently contain charts, graphs, equations, and statistical data related to the research. Pictures are rare and when included always relate directly to the research presented in the article.

Article Text

The body of an article is usually presented in sections, including an introduction, a literature review, and one or more sections describing and analyzing the argument, experiment or study and a conclusion summarizing findings. Scientific research articles also typically include separate sections addressing the methods and results of the experiment, and a discussion of the research findings. The parts of the article may be combined and or may not be labeled. The text itself is typically highly technical, and assumes a familiarity with the topic. Jargon, abbreviations, and technical terms are used without definition.


A scholarly article will end with a conclusion, where the authors summarize the results of their research. The authors may also discuss how their findings relate to other scholarship, or encourage other researchers to extend or follow up on their work.

Most scholarly articles contain many references to publications by other authors. You will find these references scattered throughout the text of the article, as in-text citations, or footnotes at the bottom of each page, or endnotes at the end of the article.
Most scholarly articles also provide a list of sources at the end of the paper. Each detailed citation listed there corresponds to one of the references provided in the body of the paper. You can use this list of sources to find additional scholarly articles and books on your topic.