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COMM 110: Quantitative Research Methods: Scholarly Article

Research guide for students taking COMM 110

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What is a scholarly article?

What is a scholarly  article?

Professors are always telling students to look for scholarly or research journal articles for their papers. For every field of research and study, there are scholarly journals.

These journals:

  • serve professors and researchers by giving them a way to communicate research results
  • share information and maintain a high standard of research

To have an article published in a scholarly journal, the author/researcher must submit the article for review by a group of peers, other experts in the field.

This PEER REVIEWING process assures that what gets published is of high quality, that the research was done well, that the conclusions were valid, and so on.

Researchers and professors know the journals in their field. Novice researchers, like you, however, have to learn how to identify appropriate scholarly journals.

Characteristics of a scholarly journal:

  • Scholarly journals are published by universities, research or professional organizations or associations, or specialized publishers
  • Scholarly journal don't have pictures in them, unless you are looking in a photography journal. (there aren't any ads for cars or beers either.  The only ads you will see are for books or conferences)
  • Articles are written by professors and researchers in a specific field or DISCIPLINE.
  • Articles will have extensive documentation in the form of footnotes and bibliographies.
  • Articles are usually quite LONG and detailed and titles are often long and detailed as well.
  • You will see lots of tables and graphs in some disciplines, like mathematics or accounting or the sciences.


  • Most will have short abstracts at the beginning of an article.
  • Subjects are covered in great depth.
  • In some fields, the language will be extremely specialized and out of the reach of novice researchers.

Primary or Secondary Sources

Your professors will often refer to reports of research as a PRIMARY source of information.

This is the first, official, published report about this study. That is what makes it PRIMARY.

Later on, when other people refer to this study or write about it in some way, those are SECONDARY sources.

Example of a research article:

Notice that the article includes an abstract, a literature review, a section on methodology, discussion, and conclusion.
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