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Psychological Science

Introduction to information resources

Parts of a Scholarly Article

An abstract is a summary of the main article. An abstract will include information about why the research study was done, the research methodology and something about the findings of the author(s). The abstract is always at the beginning of the article and will either be labeled "abstract" or formatted differently. 

Some articles have both an introduction and a literature review section, and others have only one labeled.  The introduction section introduces the research problem and articulates why it is important.  The literature review situates the study within the research that has preceded it.

The methodology section or methods section tells you how the author(s) went about doing their research. It should let you know a) what method they used to gather data (survey, interviews, experiments, etc.), why they chose this method, and what the limitations are to this method.

The "results" or "findings" section in a scholarly article is where the author(s) talk about what they found in their research study. This section is usually very detailed and does not draw conclusions.  It is "the facts, just the facts." 

Research articles are full of data. The data should be complete and directly support the conclusions the authors' draw about their research question.

Tables, graphs, and charts are good indicators that this is a research article. The tables should represent the data in a clear and readable manner.

The discussion section is where the author(s) write about what they found and what they think it means. The authors may also draw some conclusions about the research and what significance it has in this section. This section will also tell you what some of the issues were with the research or using a specific population for a research study.

The final section is usually called the conclusion or recommendations. Here is where the authors summarize what they found, why they think their research is significant and, if appropriate, make recommendations about future actions or future research that needs to be conducted. In some cases, the conclusion is part of the discussion section.

At the end of a scholarly article, you will find a list of the works referenced and cited by the author(s). This list is called a reference list, works cited or bibliography. In scholarly articles, this list will generally be quite long and include articles, books, and other sources.





* This box is based on a Fisheries and Wildlife guide by Hannah Rempel at Oregon State University.