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Exercise Science Research Guide: Scholarly Journal Articles

This Library Guide was created especially for Kinesiology students.


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     Why do professors want students to use scholarly journal articles instead of popular media such as websites and magazines in their papers and presentations?  Compare the characteristics of a magazine article to a scholarly journal article.


Purpose: To inform and entertain.

Audience: General public.

Authors: Journalists writing about the activities, accomplishments, etc., of other people.

Content: Some detail but usually fairly short in length, written in everyday language.

Quality Control: Editors select articles to be published.


Purpose: To present scientific research in order to share knowledge.

Audience: Scientists, professors, researchers, and university students.

Authors: Scientists, professors, and researchers writing about their own research and sometimes the research of others.

Content: Lengthy, detailed, research methodology and results, written in the scientific language of the discipline.

Quality Control: Peer review, an involved and rigorous system of selecting articles to be published.


Scholarly journal articles contain high quality information that is detailed, complete, and trustworthy.


The library's databases have built-in options and features that will assist you in limiting your research to scholarly journal articles, but being able to recognize what you are looking at is very useful.  A scholarly journal article will have:

  • An abstract, a summary of the article.
  • An introduction that describes what was studied and why it was studied.  The hypothesis that was tested.  Also, details of the methodology used--how the topic was studied according to scientific methods.
  • Results, which may include data.
  • Conclusions, which may be drawn from the results.  May also be labeled as discussion or significance.
  • Bibliography or list of references, usually quite lengthy, with complete citations to everything the authors read before conducting their study.


     Having difficulty with your keyword searching?  Not sure what kind of article you found?  Tap into the professional expertise of the Pfau Library's reference librarians!  Find us online under the Ask a Librarian or Research Appointments buttons on our website.

Ask a Librarian and Research Appointments buttons.


Just as there are different types of magazine articles (editorials, feature articles, regular columns, etc.), there also are different types of scholarly journal articles.  The clues detailed below will appear in the abstracts as well as the full text articles.  Here are three types you should be aware of because you may be asked to use them for your assignments:


This type of scholarly journal article will be measuring something in numbers.  There will be data and/or statistics appearing in the text, in charts, in tables, in graphics, or in the text.  Example: The Effects of Postural Threat Induced by a Virtual Environment on Performance of a Walking Balance Task.

LITERATURE REVIEW (sometimes just review)

Scientists and researchers, who are preparing to conduct their own original research, investigate and review the published research of other scientists and researchers.  The goal is to ensure that they are familiar with what has already been done on the topic they have chosen and to make recommendations for further research.  Example: The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Exercise on Sexual Functioning: A Literature Review for Adult Health Education Professionals.


Scientists and researchers investigate and review the published research of other scientists and researchers on the topic they have chosen, but here the goal is to use the results of multiple previously published studies in order to draw new conclusions.  Example: Planning Significant and Meaningful Research in Exercise Science: Estimating Sample Size.

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