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East Carolina University: RN to BSN Library Research Guide: Identifying Research Articles

Identifying Research Articles

How to identify a Peer-Reviewed & Scholarly Research Journal Article

In this course you will be asked to locate 5 peer-reviewed & scholarly journal articles to use in your literature review matrix. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine what IS and what IS NOT a research article. 

IMRAD: Introduction, Method, Results And Discussion

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Some of the most common features of SCHOLARLY & PEER-REVIEWED articles are: 

  • You'll often find a full or partial citation of the article listed on the PDF and/or website of the article
  • Authors will usually be affiliated with a University, hospital, or research institute and this information will usually be listed somewhere on the article itself. 
  • Most peer-reviewed articles will have an abstract which outlines: 
    • WHY the study was done
    • Methods used to complete the research
    • WHY the topic is important
    • How the research adds to the overarching study or field
  • Keywords will often be listed under the abstract
  • The article usually starts with an introduction or background
  • The introduction is usually followed by a literature review
  • A methods, design, or research section will often follow the literature review
  • Within the methods section, the authors SHOULD mention receiving approval from their University or Institutional Review Board (IRB), which states that their study methods have been analyzed as being safe and ethical. 
  • Look for in-text and parenthetical citations within the text of the article
  • Look for specialized vocabulary that may be difficult to read if you're not familiar with the field of research
  • Following the methods section, you should see the "Findings" section. This should cover: 
    • What did the study discover? 
    • What does it mean to the field? 
  • Finally you should see the Discussion section and lastly the references. 
  • This overall format is commonly referred too as "IMRAD" - Introduction, methods, results, and discussion. 
  • Additional sections will often include the literature review before or after the methods section, and the references at the very end. 


Further Reading: 

Carrie Forbes, MLS

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Carrie Forbes
Laupus Library
Room 2518
East Carolina University
600 Moye Blvd.
Greenville, NC 27834
252-744-2217 -OR- 252-689-8734 (TEXT)