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COMM 430: Communication Research and Inquiry

Components of a scholarly article


Robert Scoble. (2008, Feb. 13). Welcome to Microsoft Research Building 99. Retrieved from Used under the Creative Commons License.

There is some variation in the elements of scholarly journal articles, but there are also standard components that are typically included in the article text. Here are some of the key components of articles and the questions they answer:


“What is this article about?”

Abstract: Most articles start with a paragraph called the “abstract”, which very briefly summarizes the whole article.

Introduction: This section introduces the topic of the article completely and discusses what the article contributes to existing knowledge on the topic.

“What do we already know about this topic and what is left to discover?”

Literature review: A review of existing research and theory on the topic is either included in the introduction or comes after the introduction under its own subtitle. The review of literature is meant to discuss previous work on the topic, point out what questions remain, and relate the research presented in the rest of the article to the existing literature. Here should also be a clear discussion of what the hypotheses were at the beginning of the project.

“How did the author do the research?”

Methods and data: There is always some discussion of the methods used to conduct the study being reported.

“What did the author find and how did they find it?”

Analysis and Results: Another important section or sections will be devoted to discussing the kind of analysis that was conducted on the data and what the results are.

“What does it all mean and why is it important?”

Discussion and Conclusion: Articles typically end by discussing what the results mean and how the study contributes to existing knowledge. Here the research questions are answered and it should be clear at this point whether or not the hypotheses were supported or not. The conclusion is usually the final section and it typically places the research in a larger context, explaining the importance of the research and discussing where future research on the topic should be headed.

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