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The Basics of a Scholarly Article

At some point during your academic program, you will most likely be assigned with locating and using a scholarly article to assist with your course work. Do not panic or let these articles intimate you. Listed below are some of the basic features of a scholarly resource. 

1. They are written by experts.

2. Each article is a voice in a larger academic conversation. Think of each article as a contribution to an ongoing conversation that you will use when you write your own paper in your own voice. 

3. They use scholarly language that pertains to the discipline. However, the writing is typically clear and concise. 

4. They provide a scholarly argument based on reliable and valid evidence. The argument typically beings in the introduction section of the article that is supported by previous research. 

5. They should be peer reviewed. Peer review is an editorial process where other experts asses the quality and claims made in the article. When searching databases, ensure that the "peer review" box is checked to ensure high quality journals and articles appear in your search. 

What to Consider When Reading a Scholarly Article

Reading a scholarly article should be executed with intent. Listed below are some key points to use when approaching this task. 

1. Know why you are reading the article. If you are assigned with reading an article in a course, it is helpful to know what your instructor is asking of you. 

2. You do not have to read the article in order. Begin with the abstract as it provides a concise summary of what the article entails. If the abstract does not sound like it will be useful or relevant then discard it. If the abstract does seem relevant, then spend as much time as necessary reading it. 

3. Read critically. What is the author(s) main argument here? Are they sufficiently supporting it with appropriate evidence? If you feel that the argument is not sufficient enough, then further research would be necessary. 

4. Read for the conversation. Remember, each article is a part of an ongoing and larger scholarly conversation. Understanding this concept will help you realize the scale and scope of the area of research as well as the authors reason for making the argument. 

5. Scholarly literature builds upon itself. Scholarly articles are typically responding to a "gap" in research. However, sometimes you will come across an article that addresses a point that most have overlooked. This approach is known for "creating a research space." 

6. Try to use everyday language to sum up what you have just read. You may find that scholarly literature can be difficult to comprehend. Therefore, it may be easier to digest if you translate the text in informal language. 

7. Read the reference section for related articles. This is especially useful if you are looking for relevant literature on the same topic. However, articles listed in the reference section have an older publish date than the original article. This can be problematic as most institutions have a 5 year rule. For example, if it is 2021, you want to find articles that are no older than 2016. 

8. They can be very specific. Because studies are fulfilling a gap in the research, the focus of the article can be very distinct. For example, a common topic may be well researched but not within a certain population or with varying instrumentation/sources of data. Therefore, if you need a more general source of information, encyclopedias or textbooks may be a more appropriate research starter as they cover a topic with more breadth and less depth.

Resources for Reading Scholarly Articles

Reading, dissecting, and comprehending scholarly literature may seem intimidating and/or overwhelming. Do not worry, this is an iterative process that requires practice. Here at the FTCC Library, we have a book display that features incredibly useful information on how to read and write in college. Here are some of the books (with their call numbers) available for check out! They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing:  9780393631678: Graff, Gerald, Birkenstein, Cathy: Books              Wordcraft: The Complete Guide to Clear, Powerful Writing (Chicago Guides to  Writing, Editing, and Publishing): Hart, Jack: 9780226749075:  Books              Revise: The Scholar-Writer's Essential Guide to Tweaking, Editing, and  Perfecting Your Manuscript: Haag, Pamela: 9780300243673: Books    Essential Writing Skills for College and Beyond: 9781599637594:  Gill, C.M.: Books     

PE1431 .G73 2018    PN4775 .H324 2021       LB2369 .H33 2021    PE1408 .G55837 2014