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HIS 1200 American History: Dissecting a Scholarly Text

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

The following interactive example from NC State highlights different parts of a scholarly article with this interactive example from NC State. Not all parts are always present or clearly marked in different articles, but the overall organization and structure is usually the same.

In the Humanities

While many elements shown in the "Anatomy of a Scholarly Article" infographic are still present in humanities articles, they are not always distinctly marked and are read more as essays than experiments. When skimming a humanities related article, you can get a grasp of the overall structure by trying to identify the following features:

Abstract Usually at the very beginning, the abstract gives an overview picture of the article including the objective, guiding questions, and some times major findings. Abstracts do not stand in for reading the article in full.
Introduction This beginning part of the article will address the purpose of the author in writing the article, any needed background contextual information, and will often discuss how the main argument is organized in the paper.
Literature Review Often part of the introduction, though sometimes a separately marked section, the literature review will discuss prior texts published on the topic, either in part or full, as well as discuss any current gaps in the research literature that the article may be attempting to fill.
Discussion The discussion is often woven throughout the paper including the literature review. The discussion will largely be the author's own thoughts and point of view they are putting forward either within the context of other scholarly text on the topic, or thoughts surrounding the literary work of focus.
Conclusion The last few paragraphs of the article will usually summarize the main points made and might reiterate or acknowledge any weaknesses in the articles or directions for future research.
Work Cited As with more scientific articles, humanities articles will also conclude with their references and work cited at the end of the text. If it is a book chapter, the reference might be at the end of each chapter or at the end of the book.


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Breanne Crumpton