PSY 317 Psychology of Personal and Social Adjustment - Chenier: Knowledge Creation & Dissemination

Scholarly, Professional, Popular?

There are three primary types of articles that serve as ways of disseminating information. Each serves different purposes and different audiences:

Scholarly research article: written by an expert in the field and reviewed by peers who are experts in the same area. In many databases, you can limit your search to scholarly, peer-reviewed or refereed journals to weed out any non-scholarly content.

Professional/Practice article - Professional magazines can have articles written by experts in the field or by staff writers. The articles are only reviewed by editors for style, so they go through a less rigorous review process. The articles often do not contain reference lists.

Popular magazine article - Written for a general audience rather than for professionals or scholars. Examples include Time, The New Yorker, and Rolling Stone.

The Research Publication Cycle

Research goes through many steps in a cycle:

  1. The researcher develops and proposes their study. Sometimes studies are funded by government agencies or private institutions. The researcher reports their research question, literature review, data collection and analysis, and their conclusions in as an article manuscript. 
  2. The article is submitted to a peer-reviewed journal in the researcher's field of study. The editor of the journal sends the article to reviewers (at least two, usually three) for evaluation. Sometimes the reviewers recommend accepting the article for publication in the journal (often with revisions requested) or they reject the article due to poor quality. 
  3. The journal performs the final copyediting and formatting
  4. The article is published online and (sometimes) in print. The citation information and abstract are added to research databases so people can more easily find the article. 
  5. The article is likely preserved in one or more places, such as the journal's archives and an institutional or disciplinary repository
  6. Other researchers use the information in the article in their own research, building upon it and other research to further develop questions and conclusions in their field of study. Sometimes the news media or professional/practice publications report on the article as well, informing the public and practitioners on the research. 

Graphic of steps in publication cycle

Image: University of Winnipeg Library (n.d.) Scholarly Communication [webpage]. Retrieved from:

The Peer Review Process Video

Link to video about peer review process

3 minute video on the peer review process, created by the North Carolina State University Libraries:

Characteristics of a Scholarly Journal Article

Articles in peer-reviewed, scholarly journals have particular characteristics that can help you recognize them:

1. Author's name, position, affiliation (usually a university), and contact information are listed.

2. The article has clearly labeled sections. These section titles may vary, but usually include at least:

  • abstract
  • literature review
  • methods
  • results
  • discussion

3. The article has a list of cited references at the end.

Reference & Citation Searching

Aside from searching databases by topic, another very important way of discovering research is using the reference list of the article and seeing which other studies have cited the article since it was published.  

one article leads to references and cited bys