Radiologic Technology

Understanding Scholarly Sources

Where do research articles come from? How do they end up in your search results? This video has the answers.

Transcript of this video

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How do articles get peer reviewed? What role does peer review play in scholarly research and publication? This video will explain.

Transcript of this video

This video is published under a Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SA US license. License, credits, and contact information can be found here:

Scholarly Journals vs. Popular Magazines

When conducting research, scholars often rely on articles from scholarly journals rather than popular magazines.  See the table below for a list of some differences that exist between these two types of resources.


Scholarly Journal

 Popular Press

  •  Sober and serious                                  
  •  May contain graphs or charts
  • Will not find glossy pages or photographs
  • Attractive appearance
  • Advertisements
  • Heavily illustrated


 Scholars and students

 General audience


 Scholars in the field of study

 Reporters, usually not experts on the subject


 Sources cited in footnotes and/or bibliography

 Sources not cited or cited informally


 Report results of original research or experimentation

 Provide general information

 Article Acceptance

 Many scholarly journals are "refereed journals" - they undergo a process called "peer-review" where other scholars in the field examine the articles before being published.

 Written by hired reporters, edited by magazine editors, and published.


American Journal of Psychology
Journal of the American Medical Association 
American Quarterly   

huffington post logoHuffington Post
Time Magazine





Reproduced from Duke University Libraries with permission under Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-SA 3.0


What is Primary and Secondary Literature?

Scientific literature is divided into two basic categories - "primary" and "secondary".

  Primary Source Secondary Source
DEFINITIONS Original materials that have not been filtered through interpretation or evaluation by a second party. Sources that contain commentary on or a discussion about a primary source.
TIMING OF PUBLICATION CYCLE Primary sources tend to come first in the publication cycle. Secondary sources tend to come second in the publication cycle.
FORMATS--depends on the kind of analysis being conducted. Conference papers, dissertations, interviews, laboratory notebooks, patents, a study reported in a journal article, a survey reported in a journal article, and technical reports. Review articles, magazine articles, and books
Example: Scientists studying Genetically Modified Foods. Article in scholarly journal reporting research and methodology. Articles analyzing and commenting on the results of original research; books doing the same



Primary Source Secondary Source
  • Conference Papers
  • Correspondence
  • Dissertations
  • Diaries
  • Interviews
  • Lab Notebooks
  • Notes
  • Patents
  • Proceedings
  • Studies or Surveys
  • Technical Reports
  • Theses
  • Criticism and Interpretation
  • Dictionaries
  • Directories
  • Encyclopedias
  • Government Policy
  • Guide to Literature
  • Handbooks
  • Law and Legislation
  • Monographs
  • Moral and Ethical Aspects
  • Political Aspects
  • Public Opinion
  • Reviews
  • Social Policy
  • Tables


Source: The Evolution of Scientific Information (from Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, vol. 26). Adapted from The University of Albany



Characteristics of the Biology Research Article