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Guide for Nanjing Institute of Technology (NJIT) students: Evaluating scientific article

Scientific publication

Scientific article

  • is typically structured in basic order, IMRD: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion.
  • has a bibliography (reference list).

Journals and articles

Scientific journals have an evaluation practice (peer review, referee) in place, whereby the text intended for publication is evaluated by at least one external party familiar with the field.

To check if a journal is scientific (scholarly, academic) or peer-reviewed/refereed visit

  • the web page of the publication; not always reliable
  • databases like DOAJ, Web of Science, Scopus, Medline which have only or mostly peer-reviewed journals
  • databases like Ebsco and ProQuest which allow you to limit your search to peer reviewed journals.

Peer review

Peer review is a way of evaluating and assuring the quality of research before it is published. It involves critical evaluation by independent experts (peers) usually anonymously. The reviewers are usually appointed by the editors of a journal to which the work has been submitted.

There are several types of articles in scientific journals. Usually peer reviewed are:

Journal article, original research publishes full reports of data from research. It includes full Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion sections.

Review article, literature review, systematic review provides a comprehensive summary of research on a certain topic as well as a perspective on the state of the field and where it is heading:

  • literature review examines recent or current literature
  • systematic review, where for example the information search is presented and the material or data is closely scrutinized
  • meta-analysis statistically combines the results of quantitative studies.

Some manuscripts such as letters, editorials, commentaries, book reviews etc. may go through a fast-track editorial review process, not peer-review, for speedy publication.

The different publication types are listed according to the publication speed of the information:

Example of a scientific article