Most academic articles undergo a thorough editing process before they are published, so you won’t need to spend as much time verifying the information’s credibility like you would have to do for website information. This gives you time to dig a bit deeper in your content evaluation!

Some vocabulary to know:

  • Peer-reviewed: The article was reviewed and approved by other professionals in the field before it was published.
  • Open Access: Published research that is freely available to the public without a required subscription.
  • Annotated Bibliography: An article that lists other articles or publications on a specific subject with notes added about content or quality.
  • Systematic Review: An article that combines and compares findings from many different studies in one document. The information is collected “systematically” by searching for studies in specific databases or publication collections.
  • Clinical research: Research that directly involves a particular person or group of people, or that uses materials from humans, such as their behavior or samples of their tissue (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2012).
  • Clinical trial: One type of clinical research that follows a pre-defined plan or protocol (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2012).
  • Protocol: List of steps that determine what types of people are eligible to participate in the study; determines the schedule of tests, procedures, medications, and dosages; and sets the length of the study. (National Human Genome Research Institute, 2012).
  • Randomized Study: A clinical trial in which all patients are assigned randomly (by chance) to be in experimental group (receiving the experimental treatment) or the control group (receiving the placebo or control substance). (MedLine Plus, 2014).
  • Controlled Study: A clinical trial that compares the outcome of a group of randomly-assigned patients who receive the experimental treatment to the outcome of a group of randomly-assigned patients who receive a standard treatment or inactive placebo. (MedLine Plus, 2014)
  • Blind or masked studies: Patients do not know whether they are getting the drug being tested, or whether they are in the control group. Double-blind means none of the participants, including experimental subjects, examining doctors, attending nurses, or any other research staff, know who is taking the test drug and who is taking a control or placebo agent (National Human Genome Research Institute, 2012).

Increasing Knowledge: How to Read an Academic Paper: This is a great summary from the Lewy Body Dementia Association (2009) via the National Institutes of Health. It will remind you of questions to ask yourself when reading research articles.

Examples of Academic Journal Articles

Do these articles look like good sources for a research report?