Their goal is to advance knowledge in the field. They present the results of new research and analysis.
They’re written by the experts who did the research. There are often two or more authors, usually several in a science article.
Most of their readers are experts in the field. The articles are written for them and are usually challenging for non experts to understand well because of specialized concepts and vocabulary.
Before getting published, the articles are usually reviewed by experts on the same topic. They make suggestions to the authors on how to improve the content. These peer reviews increase the quality of the information. Here's a video about peer review from NC State University.
In the Sciences and Social Sciences, academic articles usually have the sections in the list below and in that order. Headings in the text usually identify each section. The names for the sections can vary a bit.
- Literature review
- Statement of purpose
- Discussion & Analysis
- Reference list
They also often, but not always, have the following:
- Author's current university affiliation and position there
- Author's declaration of competing interests
They also tend to have tables or charts with data, and diagrams or other graphics that present the information. They don't use colourful images or other techniques just to try to catch a reader's attention.
This interactive site from NC State University provides information on each of the sections above.
- For the usual pattern in the Humanities, see April Cunningham’s concise comparison of the parts of academic articles in different disciplines.
- Sample academic articles
- Find your articles here: Get The Research is a site that helps you find academic articles and understand their content.