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SHB BIO171: Recognizing Scholarly Articles

Identifying popular, trade & scholarly sources








Identified sometimes

Often a journalist

No prescribed format

Length varies

Uses everyday language

Graphics/photos designed to draw interest

Of interest to a wide, general audience


Identified usually

Credentials sometimes (~Professional)

No prescribed format

Length varies

Common language or language of the trade

Graphics/photos designed to draw interest

Of interest to those employed in or following the field

     Scholarly      (peer-reviewed)

Always identified

Academic credentials usually present

Usually: abstract, intro, discussion, references *


More scholarly language

Detailed charts or graphs to show data, research findings

Of interest to other scholars

Narrow focus


* Format of Scholarly Articles in the Sciences

Look for the following elements in articles you find.  Research articles contain most or all of these sections.  Look in particular for a "methods" section.

  • Abstract: A summary of the article
  • Introduction and statement of the problem
  • Hypothesis
  • Experimental methods & materials
  • Data collection
  • Analysis
  • Results, conclusions, recommendations for further research
  • List of sources used
  • Date of submission, revision, and acceptance 

Reading a scientific article

“How to Read a Scientific Paper” by Michael Fosmire is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Evaluate sources with the CRAAP test

Every message has a reason and the job of the researcher is to select the information that is most appropriate for an academic or educational purpose.  CRAAP is a set of easy-to-use (and remember!) criteria to help you choose the best information for your research papers.  Take a look at the worksheet and videos below to learn how to apply these criteria.

Note that if you've confirmed you're looking at a scholarly source, the Authority, Accuracy and Purpose should already be assured (as part of the peer-review process) - so you only need to consider Currency and Relevancy.

C: Currency

R: Relevance

A: Authority

A: Accuracy

P: Purpose