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HMHV 1101 – Social Contours of Health, Fall 2023

Dr. Owen Whooley

Purpose - Why do scholarly journal articles exist?

Scholars present original research findings in academic or scholarly journals. Original research findings are generated as scholars ask original questions and seek answers using the methodologies of their discipline. Scholars are typically highly educated, usually possessing a PhD, and often are affiliated with a university. Scholars write articles to share with other scholars, thus, the audience is specialized and expert.

Questions to consider about the purpose of an information source:

  • Why does this information exist? What action or goal is the format trying to communicate or encourage or regulate or advise on or document or facilitate or…?
  • Who created it? (author)
  • Who did they create it for? (audience)

Process - How do they get created and shared?

Publication in an academic journal is a rigorous affair. Scholarly journal articles are typically submitted to a blind review by other experts in the field who determine if an article meets the standards of the publication.  The process, called peer-review, is a key feature of the academic journal format. Scholarly journals are published by academic publishers and scholarly societies. 

Question to consider about the process of an information source 

  • What processes did the author follow to get this published?
  • Were there any quality control measures taken before it was published and distributed?
  • How did this get to me?

Product - What does the final form typically look like?

Scholarly journal articles are typically structured around the most efficient way to present research findings, usually containing the following sections:

  • Title/Abstract
  • Introduction/Literature Review
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion/Conclusion
  • References/Bibliography.

Because all research builds on other research, scholarly articles always contain extensive citations (in the References/Bibliography or Footnotes/Endnotes). Scholarly journal articles often contain scientific/technical figures, charts, and/or tables, but less often photos or other images, but this varies by discipline. 


Questions to consider about the final product of an information source

  • Why does it look the way it does?
  • What are the major and minor elements? What’s required and what’s optional?
  • What can help me identify this format in the future? Differentiate it from other formats?