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Geography Research Guide

Learn about conducting research on geography using PCC Library resources.

What is a Scholarly Article?

Scholarly articles are reports of an expert's research, analysis, or review of a research topic. They are sometimes also referred to as scientific, academic, or peer-reviewed.

Scholarly articles typically have the following parts:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Methods
  • Results (including tables and/or figures)
  • Discussion
  • References or Bibliography

Take a look at this Anatomy of a Scholarly Article tutorial developed by North Carolina State University Libraries that shows which parts make up a journal article, such as the title, author, abstract, introduction, publication information, and more.

What Does Peer Reviewed Mean?

Peer review is a process used by scholarly journals in which an article is reviewed by experts in the field before being published. Peer review helps to ensure that an article meets certain standards of quality before publication. Because of this process, peer reviewed articles are usually more credible and dependable than other articles.

How Can I Tell if an Article is Peer Reviewed?

Most PCC Library databases will let you check a box that limits searches to peer reviewed articles only. You can also look up a journal's website to see what is says about its publishing process, including whether or not the journal is peer reviewed.

Additionally, you can look for these characteristics that peer reviewed articles typically have:

  • They are written by experts. Look for an author's credentials or affiliations such as degrees earned or a university they teach at.
  • They use scholarly language with technical, discipline specific vocabulary.
  • They provide verifiable and reliable evidence for claims. This is typically done by including tables or figures of data throughout the article, and by providing bibliography of resources cited or consulted in their research.

How to Read a Scientific Article

“Reading a scientific article is a complex task. The worst way to approach this task is to treat it like the reading of a textbook--reading from title to literature cited, digesting every word along the way without any reflection or criticism” (Purugganan & Hewitt 2004).

This handout, How to Read a Scientific Article, written by Dr. Mary Purugganan and Dr. Jan Hewitt, provides a helpful breakdown of how to approach reading a scholarly, scientific article:

  1. Skim the article and identify its structure
  2. Distinguish main points
  3. Generate questions and be aware of your understanding
  4. Draw inferences
  5. Take notes as you read

Review the handout (linked above) for discussion of each of these strategies in more detail.