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Contents of a Scholarly Article

Click on the plus signs to learn more about each section

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.

Most papers provide citations to other research throughout the text (in parenthesis or as footnotes), as well as a list of references or bibliography or notes at the end of the paper. Each reference listed there corresponds to one of the citations provided in the body of the paper. You can use this list of references to find additional scholarly articles and books on your topic.

The body text of an article typically includes the following sections:

  • The methods or methodology section discusses how the author(s) went about doing their research.
  • The discussion and/or results section is where the author(s) write about what they found and what they think it means. It typically includes an examination of the meaning and implications of the research for existing and future exploration.

An abstract is a summary of the entire article, which is provided so that readers examining the article can decide quickly whether the article meets their needs. It will contain a description of the problem and problem setting; an outline of the study, experiment, or argument; and a summary of the conclusions or findings.

The introduction summarizes the article’s main idea, thesis, or research question. It should answer the question, "Why this?" and includes background knowledge on the topic and provides information about research motivations, impact, or purpose. This section may also contain a literature review, which places the research in context with prior work. It analyzes important contributions that the author(s) believe are relevant and that the article builds upon to create new knowledge. Sometimes, it includes a theoretical framework.

Adapted from: NCSU Libraries. (2009). Anatomy of a Scholarly Article. https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/tutorials/scholarly-articles/