Unlike articles in popular magazines that are often written anonymously or by a member of the editorial staff, articles in scholarly journals almost always identify the responsible author. Not only are the authors' names given, but also their professional qualifications/credentials and institutional affiliations are provided. For articles with multiple authors, this information may be provided for each author. The information may variously appear at the beginning of the article, at the bottom of the first page, or just before the references.
⇒ In the sample article by Villamil-Gomez, et al., from what 3 countries did the authors hail?
In addition, a means for contacting the author, such as a postal address, phone number, and/or email address, will be provided. For multi-authored works, one person will be identified as the corresponding author, for whom contact information is provided. The corresponding author will accept and respond to contacts from members of the scientific community who have questions or comments regarding their paper.
⇒ In the sample article by Villamil-Gomez, et al., who is the corresponding author, and how could you contact him? (HINT: look at the PDF).
Authors of research studies must indicate any outside funding they may have received in support of the research. This could be in the form of government grants or grants from a private or commercial entity, such as a pharmaceutical company. The statement about funding is usually located after the abstract, or at the end of the article.
⇒ From what three institutions did the authors of the article by Villamil-Gomez, et al., receive financial support?
It is also essential that the authors disclose any potential conflict of interest. Conflict of interest or competing interest may include employment by, or ownership of, a company involved in the field being studied, or other financial relationships that could be affected by the information in the article.
The authors' professional qualifications and affiliations, sources of financial support, and conflicts of interest can be useful in assessing point-of-view and potential bias.
At the end of the article, there will usually be a statement indicating when the manuscript was received, the date(s) of revision, and the date of final acceptance. Often the manuscript is accepted for publication many months before it is actually published, although nowadays many publishers are able to fast-track manuscripts on topics of critical concern.
⇒ Referring to the sample article by Villamil-Gomez, et al., how much time elapsed between the date the manuscript was received and the date it was accepted? Now, look at the receipt/acceptance dates of the Warren, et al., article. How much time elapsed between this manuscript's receipt and its acceptance? How do you explain the difference in the time lag between receipt and acceptance of the two articles?