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How to Read a Scholarly Article

Sections of a Scholarly Journal Article About Scientific Research

Let's look at the different parts of a scholarly article that presents scientific research:



  • Brief description of the article
  • You can read this to decide whether you want to read the entire article.

first page of a scholarly article with the abstract highlighted


  • Description of the problem, or the research question, and why this study is being done
  • Sometimes includes a short literature review

First page of scholarly article with the introduction section circled

Article Text

  • The main part of an article is its body text.
  • This is where the author analyzes the argument, research question, or problem. This section also includes analysis and criticism.
  • The author may use headings to divide this part of the article into sections. 

Scientific research articles may include these sections:

  • Literature review (Discussion of other sources, such as books and articles, that informed the author(s) of this article)
  • Methods (Description of the way the research study was set up and how data was collected)
  • Results (Presentation of the research study results)
  • Discussion (Discussion of whether the results of the study answer the research question)

You may see some of these same sections in articles that present humanities scholarship.


  • Wraps up the article.
  • This section isn't always labeled. 
  • Description of how this article or research study contributes to or builds on the previous research of other scholars.
  • Also includes ideas for future research others might do on this topic.

Page 7 of a scholarly article with conclusion section highlighted

References/Works Cited:

List of resources (books, articles, etc.) cited in this article.

page of a scholarly article with reference section highlighted

This example uses pages from this article:

Sampson, L., Ettman, C., Abdalla, S., Colyer, E., Dukes, K., Lane, K., & Galea, S. (2021). Financial hardship and health risk behavior during COVID-19 in a large US national sample of women. SSM - Population Health, 13, 100734–100734.