Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

Trocaire College Libraries

How to identify a scholarly article

This guide will include the 6 important elements of a scholarly article.

How do you know that the article is the right type of article for college-level research?

  • Appears in a scholarly source (see Scholarly vs. Popular Sources)/ and editorial process
  • Author(s) credentials
  • Abstract
  • Appearance and language used (body of the article)
  • Research
  • References

Scholarly Journal

Are periodicals in which information related to an academic discipline is published.

  • Most scholarly journals include what is known as peer-reviewed or refereed content
  • Peer-reviewed means that the articles were read and approved by a group of experts before publishing in the journal. These experts are usually scholars in the same field as the author of the article
  • Journals might also include columns, book reviews, and other content that may or may not be peer-reviewed


Check their credentials:

  • Authors usually have advanced degrees (PhD, MD, etc.) in the subject covered by the journal
  • Authors are usually experts affiliated with a university, research institute, professional association
  • They basically have the "chops" to write an article on a particular topic


An abstract is a summary of the entire article. It will appear at the beginning of the article.

  • Use the information found in the abstract to decide if the article is exactly what you need
  • When using a library database often the article's abstract will appear in the results

Body of article

The body of the article may have several aspects depending on the type of article:

  • Introduction
  • The research question the author is asking
  • The benefits or findings of the research that the author is hoping to achieve
  • Literature review. This is presenting other authors' works on the subject
  • Detailed graphs, statistics or charts
  • In- text citations
  • Lengthy
  • Uses the vocabulary or professional jargon of the academic discipline
  • Conclusion
  • References


Many scholarly articles include a research component. These types of articles are "research articles":

  • An original research article is a type of journal article that describes a study, survey or exp
  • Additional aspects of the article may include:

    • Procedures/methods: explains how the research was conducted phrase being searched

    • Analysis/Results: what was learned from the research

    • Discussion: examines how the results relate to past research as well as how they can be applied to future research


This is the list of sources used in writing the article:

  • Think of it as the Reference page (APA) or Works Cited page (MLA) at the end of a research paper that you wrote
  • Use these references to find other articles that may relate to your topic
  • These, like in-text citations, give credit to the original research of a source

For more information, ask a librarian!

updated & revised June 2020