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What Kind of Article Is This?: Article Types

I found it in a database, but I don't know if it fits my assignment requirement. What is this?

Problem - What Am I Looking At?

What Is This?!?!

You've been assigned a research project and been told to use a specific kind of resource from the library's databases, but you're not sure if the article you have found meets your assignment's requirements.  Look at these definitions to help you determine your source type.

Types of Journal Articles

Academic Journal Articles

Journals are where professionals in a field publish their work so that others in their field will read it.  They exist to advance the knowledge of the field.  Journal articles will be written at an elevated level because they use the jargon of their field.  They are not for casual readers in a doctor's office waiting room.

Expert Opinion Piece - An authoritative voice in the field offers their expert opinion on a topic.

Case Report/Study - A case report is a detailed report of the symptoms, signs, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of an individual patient. Case reports may contain a demographic profile of the patient, but usually describe an unusual or novel occurrence.

Original Research Study (Cohort Study, Controlled Clinical Study or Randomized Controlled Trial) - This type of article presents original research on a group of subjects.  These articles feature standard sections including:

  • an abstract - a short summary of the article
  • an introduction - provides the rationale for the study as well as its goals and it includes information about previous related studies so you can see where this paper fits in with other literature from the field
  • a methods section - this outlines exactly how the study was carried out and allows other researchers to replicate it
  • results - a summary of the study's findings without any analysis or commentary
  • discussion/conclusion - an analysis and interpretation of the study's findings and limitations
  • references - a list of other studies cited in the paper

For more on these sections, consult this guide.

Systematic Review - This type of article answers a research question by collecting and summarizing all the studies on a topic that fit specified eligibility criteria. They are a significant piece of work (on average, a team will take 9-24 months to complete one), and to be useful to other researchers and practitioners they should have:

  • clearly stated objectives with pre-defined eligibility criteria for studies
  • explicit, reproducible methodology
  • a systematic search that attempts to identify all studies
  • assessment of the validity of the findings of the included studies (e.g. risk of bias)
  • systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the characteristics and findings of the included studies (Literature Review Research from Old Dominion University)

Meta-Analysis - Meta-analysis is the use of statistical methods to summarize the results of independent studies. A meta-analysis goes beyond critique and integration of systematic reviews and conducts secondary statistical analysis on the outcomes of similar studies.  It is a systematic review that uses quantitative methods to synthesize and summarize the results. (Literature Review Research from Old Dominion University)

Clinical Practice Guidelines - These are often developed from meta-analyses.  The guidelines are based on an in-depth analysis of MANY studies so you know how to best help a patient.


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