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Social Work: More About Scholarly Articles

A guide to Social Work resources and library research.

Why scholarly journals?

With most assignments you will find that you are expected to research and cite scholarly journal articles.   Have you ever wondered why?

  • Scholarly journals contain articles written by experts/scholars doing research in the field.  The author's affiliations are listed verifying his/her background. 
  • Scholarly journal articles always contain citations of their sources.  These bibliographies are often lengthy and cite other scholarly writings. 
  • Most articles start with an abstract of the article and are primarily made up of text.  You may see graphs or charts, but typically you will not see glossy pages or many pictures (if any). 
  • Scholarly journal articles are written in the language of the field covered, therefore it is targeted towards readers with background in that field.  
  • The main purpose of a scholarly journal is to report on original research.  Before an article is published in a scholarly it is often vetted by fellow experts in the field. 
  • Citing scholarly journal articles in your research shows you took the effort to find them and that you have a grasp on the language/theory/methods of your field. 
  • Scholarly journal articles make your arguments stronger.

Learn about types of publications (newspapers, popular, trade and scholarly) through this tutotial offered by Northeastern University Libraries

Finding full text scholarly journal articles...

How do I know if the full text of an article is available ?

Library database results will have full text available in either HTML text or a PDF document. 

With most full text databases you should be able to print, e-mail, and/or save the article.

OR

Database results will have   (or similar) which can connect you with the full text in two ways:

  • A link to the full text of the article via another database that we subscribe to

OR

  • A link to an Interlibrary Loan request form is provided.  Once articles are obtained from another library the articles will be e-mailed to you (next day or up to 5 business days).

Examples

One of these types of scholarly articles will typically have these parts:

How to Read a Scholarly Journal Article Featuring Original Research

Abstract

A summary of the article including the study’s key points.  Reading this can help you decide if an article is relevant to your research.

Introduction

Typically includes a literature review which is a critical summary of what the scholarly literature says about a specific topic or question.   It also covers why the topic is important and what the problem is that the study focuses on.

Method/Methodology

Contains what the author(s) did to try to solve the problem covered in the introduction.  Gives detailed information on the research including participants, procedures, instruments, variables.  Typically address how the results relate to the hypothesis or problem stated in the introduction

Results

Covers what the authors found, a summation of data and an analysis.  There are often tables and/or figures providing statistics. 

Discussion

What the authors think their findings mean, a narrative summary of the results.  It may relate the results to previous studies, address study limitations, and give suggestions for future studies on the topic.

References

List of sources cited in the article such as books and peer-reviewed articles.