Skip to Main Content

Research Guides

Eastern Washington University Libraries

Distinguishing Scholarly Articles


Abstract: a brief summary of an article, book, or document. 

Bibliography: a list of sources on a specific subject. 

Citation: a structured reference to a book, article, or other information source. A citation includes author, title, source, publication date and other information necessary to uniquely identify and retrieve the item. 

Empirical: describes information derived from an actual experiment, data compilation, case study, or other observation method. 

Literature review: a summary of the current state of knowledge on a given topic, with detailed references to significant individual studies or papers. Similar to a review article, but generally used only as a preliminary portion of an article that presents new research. 

Meta-analysis: a research study that incorporates the quantitative results of several related previous studies using statistical methods. Its validity is therefore dependent on the quality of the previous studies. 

Peer review: Independent review before publication by one or more experts in the field. These "referees" look for valid research methodology and accurate data, but do not necessarily support the conclusions of the author(s).

Periodical: any magazine, journal or newspaper that is published on a continuing basis.

Professional journal: a periodical that contains specialized information relevant to a single profession, such as profession-related news and opinion articles. It may include book reviews, and possibly theoretical or research articles.

Scholarly: describes knowledge resulting from study and research in a particular field, employing the methods, discipline, and attainments of a scholar.

Secondary source: a subsequent description, discussion, or analysis of events or research already presented elsewhere in a primary source, without the participation of the original author(s).

Systematic review: A literature review that focuses on a single research question and tries to identify, synthesize and evaluate all high quality research on the topic.  Systematic reviews incorporate independent peer-review  and explicit standardized procedures intended to minimize bias.

Trade journal or magazine: a periodical that contains specialized information relevant to a particular trade or business. Typically, the focus is on news articles and not original research.