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“The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking” by Albert Einstein

What is a scientific article?

A scientific article (also known as "journal article” ) is the written technical-scientific report that serves as an instrument for the dissemination of scientific knowledge to a specific audience. As a result of this process practically every scientific article has a title, summary, introduction, materials and methods, results and discussion.

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What types of articles are published in Academic and Scientific Journals? Types of scientific articles include:

  • Primary articles (original research articles, case reports/case series, and technical notes)
  • Secondary articles (narrative review articles and systematic reviews)
  • Special articles (letters to the editor, correspondences, short communications, editorials, commentaries, and pictorial essays) 
  • Tertiary and grey literature. 

There are several templates for Note-Taking Template from Journal Articles available:

About Primary research articles: These articles contain the original data and conclusions of the researchers who were involved in the experiments. These articles also contain details on how the experiments were carried out. 
About Secondary articles: Literature reviews usually answer broad and descriptive research questions. Systematic reviews are more comprehensive and precise because they seek to answer specific scientific questions of high importance. The university of Michigan provides information on how to conduct systematic reviews in the health sciences. Read here. There are different types of literature reviews: 

  • Systematic reviews: is a comprehensive literature search and synthesis project that tries to answer a well-defined question using existing primary research as evidence. A protocol is used to plan the systematic review methods prior to the project, including what is and is not included in the search. Systematic reviews are often used as the foundation for a meta analysis (a statistical process that combines the findings from individual studies) and to re-evaluate clinical guidelines. 
  • Meta-analyses - are characterized by: Statistical technique for combining the findings from disparate quantitative studies; uses statistical methods to objectively evaluate, synthesize, and summarize results; and may be conducted independently or as part of a systematic review. Read here.
  • Umbrella: Reviews other systematic reviews on a topic.
  • Comparative effectiveness: Systematic reviews of existing research on the effectiveness, comparative effectiveness, and comparative harms of different health care interventions. Are intended to provide relevant evidence to inform real-world health care decisions for patients, providers, and policymakers. Read more here
  • Scoping: Systematically and transparently collect and categorize existing evidence on a broad question of policy or management importance.
  • Rapid narrative: Useful for addressing issues needing timely decisions, such as developing policy recommendations.

About grey literature: Grey literature is the unpublished, non-commercial, hard-to-find information that organizations such as professional associations, research institutes, think tanks, and government departments produce. The university of Michigan provides resources and information on how to search for "grey literature" here
What is the structure of a research paper for a Peer-Reviewed Journal? And how to read a scientific article?

We recommend you to read the tutorials that Tess research foundation made available: 

anatomy of a research article
breaking down the information
Tips for criticaly assessing the article
How To Read A Scientific Paper; Part 1: Anatomy Of A Research Article How To Read A Scientific Paper; Part 2: Breaking Down The Information How To Read A Scientific Paper; Part 3: Tips For Critically Assessing The Article

Below you can see how Arizona State University has mapped out the “anatomy” of a scientific paper is: 

anatomy paper

Source of the image: Ask a biologist. Article Anatomy of an article. Accessed November 6, 2022.

The article How to Write and Publish a Research Paper for a Peer-Reviewed Journal explains the basic structure of a scientific paper and describe the information that should be included in each section. Also identifies common pitfalls for each section and recommend strategies to avoid them. 
Arizona State University (ASU) shares How to read a scientific article, with tips you can use when reading a scientific paper. 

  • Abstract: Summarizes the whole article in 5-10 lines highlighting the main questions investigated by the authors and the main results of their experiments, thus giving an overview of the findings
  • Introduction: Contextualizes the article and summarizes research relevant to the topic of interest. The main elements of the introduction section of an original research article are: 

 

article introduction funnel

Source: Article How to Write and Publish a Research Paper for a Peer-Reviewed Journal. Accessed November 6, 2022.

  • Materials and Methods: Explains the set of techniques that allowed the authors to reach the conclusions mentioned in the article
  • Results: This is the main part of the article and explains the authors findings by following the method previously suggested.
  • Discussion: The discussion section is the opportunity for the authors to voice their opinions. It is where they draw conclusions about the results. It usually contains type of research questions that have not yet been answered in the field. The major elements of the discussion section of an original research article are: 
    discussion elements funnel

Source: Article How to Write and Publish a Research Paper for a Peer-Reviewed Journal. Accessed November 6, 2022.

  • Conclusion: This part of a scientific paper tells you the final thoughts from the researchers. Summarizes the entire paper with emphasis on the findings, the core message and possible future actions.
  • References: The References section of the article gives credit to other scientists and researchers. Any articles/citations they mention in the article should be present here, in the references section, sometimes referred to as the bibliography.

A Guide to the Scientific Career: Virtues, Communication, Research and Academic Writing features ten sections composed of seventy-four chapters that cover essential tips and skills for writing research papers and career management. This is an excellent interdisciplinary text that will appeal to all medical students and scientists who seek to improve their writing and communication skills in order to make the most of their chosen career.
The authors from article How to Write and Publish a Research Paper for a Peer-Reviewed Journal, provide a checklist for manuscript quality to be used after you have written a complete draft:

checklist

Open image

Source: Article How to Write and Publish a Research Paper for a Peer-Reviewed Journal. Accessed November 6, 2022.

Interesting references and resources: 

  • WikiHow made available How to Read Scientific Articles Quickly. Updated August 26, 2020. Accessed November 6, 2022.
  • Elsevier made available the Infographic: How to read a scientific paper. Updated August 26, 2020. Accessed November 6, 2022.
  • Elsevier Researcher Academy: Free e-learning modules developed by global experts; career guidance and advice; research news on our blog.
  • Research4Life Training Portal: A platform with free downloadable resources for researchers. The Authors hub section contains modules, including how to read and write scientific papers, intellectual property, web bibliography and reference management tools along with hands-on activity workbooks. Also provides Publishing & Research Communication webinar series, covering successful strategies and case studies for promoting research to distinct communities, get published and so forth.

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Authors

Vanessa Ferreira (CDG & Allies FCT, NOVA University, World CDG Organization and Portuguese Association for CDG).

Revisors

Ana Verde (collaborators at CDG & Allies FCT, NOVA University), Javier López and Kevin Aguirre (research volunteers at CDG & Allies FCT, NOVA University)

Content managers

Marisa Godinho (collaborator at CDG & Allies FCT, NOVA University)

Disclaimer

The Site cannot and does not contain medical or health advice. The information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice.

Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind of medical or health advice. The use or reliance of any information contained on this site is solely at your own risk.

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