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BIOL 230W: Biology: Molecules & Cells

What Makes A Source Scholarly?

You don't have scholarly works without "scholars"--people who are experts in their field and dedicated to study and advancing knowledge of the subject. Typically they hold an advanced degree in their field and work for an organization dedicated to education and research, like a university or sometimes a think tankIt's always a good idea to Google your authors to find out what makes them experts. 

Scholars typically publish their research in special "scholarly journals." As young experts in your field, it's important to be exposed to these journals during your studies. Scholarly articles are typically organized in the same basic fashion, which helps make them easier for you to recognize.  Scholarly journals are one of three main types of publications, including popular (magazines and newspapers) and trade (for people who work in a specific field).

Primary Research Articles vs. Review Articles - How can I tell the difference?

Differentiating between original research articles and review articles can be a bit tricky.  Both types of articles are considered "scholarly" and appear in peer reviewed journals.  However, it is an essential skill in the sciences to be able to differentiate between the two types of articles.  Below is information to assist you in determining what type of resource you are viewing. 




Research Article

Author(s) present new set of findings from original research after conducting an original experiment.

Typically contains the following distinct sections: 

  • Methods (possibly the variation Methods & Materials) 
  • Results (including charts, graphs, and statistical tables)
  • Discussion


Young L, Saloman R, Au W, Allan C, Russell P, Dong Q. 2006. Ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) expression pattern in human prostate tissues and ODC trangenic mice. J Histochem Cytochem. [accessed 2017 Jan 5]; 54(2): 223-229.

Review Article

Author(s) analyze and summarize existing research.

Often focus on a general topic and bring together all relevant, useful articles on that topic in one article.

Do not contain sections such as Methods or Results because they did not conduct original research.

References within a review article can help you locate primary research articles on a topic!


Hayashi S, Murakami Y. 1995. Rapid and regulated degradation of ornithine decarboxylase. Biochem J. [accessed 2017 Jan 5]; 306(1): 1-10.