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UCQ

Evaluate Information

How to evaluate the sources you find.

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

Click on the link to see Anatomy of Scholarly Article using an interactive Tutorial (NCSU Libraries)

To further understand, let's look at different parts of an article more closely in the following sections.

For illustration, we have used the article, Khraim, F., Alhamaydeh, M., Faramand, Z., Saba, S., & Al-Zaiti, S. (2020). A Novel Non-Invasive Assessment of Cardiac Hemodynamics in Patients With Heart Failure and Atrial Fibrillation. Cardiology research11(6), 370–375. https://doi.org/10.14740/cr1110 


Title

The article title provides a brief and clear description of the content of the article. The words are carefully chosen to provide the most information and to make the article easily findable through databases and other search engines.


Author and Affiliation

When you are reading and evaluating an article, the first thing to look for is the author and their affiliations. In scholarly articles, the authors' names will be listed at the beginning of the article and you will see their affiliation under the author's name or at the bottom of the first page. This is an important piece of information while assessing/appraising the credibility of the article.


Abstract

An abstract is the summary or overview of an article. The abstract will include information about the objective or aim of the research, the methodology they have used, some information about the findings, and the chief conclusions of the research. For an academic article, you will always find the abstract at the beginning of the paper.


Introduction or Background

Most scholarly articles begin with an introduction or background. This section introduces the topic while providing the author's objective or thesis statement and the rationale for conducting the research. Often the thesis or hypothesis is not clearly labelled, rather you will find it at the end of the introduction as the objective/purpose of the study.

When you read the introduction/background, ask yourself the following question:

  1. What is the purpose or objective of the study?
  2. Why is the study relevant and what contribution does this may make?


Methodology or Methods

The methodology or methods section describes how the author conducted the research. This section will help you understand the research procedure and will help you replicate the study if you like to do so. The methods section will tell you 

  • What research approach the author has adopted: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods?
  • What data collection strategies does the author use: interview, survey, observation, document analysis etc?
  • Who are the participants of the study and how did they recruit/find them for the study?
  • What are the sample size and their characteristics?
  • During data collection, did the author ask for participant consent?
  • Where did the author record or store the data?
  • How does the author analyse the data? Was there anyone else involved during data analysis and/or data collection?
  • Does the data analysis is done with care and did they use appropriate strategies?
  • Overall, does the methodology appropriate to answer the author's objective or research question? 


Results or Findings

The result or findings section of the scholarly article illustrates what the author has found from the research study.  You might see tables, charts, graphs or statistical terms in the results section. When you read the result section, ask yourself:

  1. How clear and appropriate are the findings?
  2. Do the findings connect with the data the author(s) has collected?
  3. Do you find a link between the data sources, data collection, data analysis and the results?


Discussion

The discussion section of an article will tell you what the author found and what they think about it. The author often discusses their finding compared to past research findings and will help you understand what contribution the research can make.  In some cases, the author will discuss the challenges or limitations of their study as part of their discussion.


Conclusions

This is the final section of the article where the author summarizes what they have found and how significant the study findings are in the field. You will also see the author's recommendations and information about any future action or future research around the topic. In some articles,  you may not see a section labelled as the conclusion, but it will be provided at the end of the discussion section.


References

At the end of the scholarly article, the author will list all resources or work they have used in the article. Often people call this section a bibliography or reference list. This section may include references to books, articles, websites, blogs or any kind of information source.

When you read the reference section, please ask yourself :

  1. Are they recent resources?
  2. Does this include any sources or authors you are familiar with?

 


Acknowledgement, Financial Disclosure, Ethics, Author Contribution, Appendices and other sections

You may also find additional pieces of information at the end of the article which will help you understand some of the important aspect of the research project.

Acknowledgement: The purpose of this section is to thank all the people or organizations who may have helped the researchers during the study, but did not qualify for authorship.

Financial Disclosure: This section describes or lists any kind of financial support ( fund, grants, sponsorship etc )the author(s) has received for the research study. It is important to review the section to understand any commercial or financial relationship/interest when conducting the research study. In some articles, you may find this information under the title Conflict of Interest.

Ethics or Informed Consent:  This section will tell you what ethical considerations the author(s) have taken while conducting the study, particularly during the data collection stage. In most cases, this includes information about the informed consent, which the participant might have approved and signed before taking part in the research. The section also includes information about the ethical body/organization that approved the research study.

Author Contribution: This section describes the contributions of each author.

Appendices: This section contains supplementary materials which are not an essential part of the article texts; however this will be helpful in providing more information about the research problem or data. The appendix is a good place to provide any maps, photographs, survey/interview questions, field notes, email/letters, raw data and other non-textual components.


Content adapted from