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GEO 4251

A Research Guide created for Geography 4251

Additional Resources

Outline of Scholarly Writing

With some variation among the different disciplines, most scholarly articles of original research follow the IMRaD model, which consists of the following components:


  • Literature Review
  • Statement of Problem or Research Topic
  • Plan to Solve the Problem or Thesis of Argument

Method & Results*

  • How Research was Done
  • Data
  • What Answers were Found


  • Interpretation of Results
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Implications for the Field

This form is most obvious in scientific studies, where the methods are clearly defined and described, and data is often presented in tables or graphs for analysis. Many scholarly articles will also include an Abstract, a Conclusion, and a Bibliography.

*In other fields, such as history, the method and results may be embedded in a narrative, perhaps describing and interpreting events from archival sources. In this case, the method is the selection of archival sources and how they were interpreted, while the results are the interpretation and resultant story. Similarly, in other humanities fields, like English, a scholarly work will not include an explicit methods or results section, but a portion of the text will ground the author's perspective in related theory (methods) and the subsequent portion will consist of an extensive analysis in support of the author's argument consisting of close readings of primary texts supported by the incorporation of secondary sources (results). Such analyses in the humanities are typically broken into sub-sections that are organized topically.

In full-length books, you might see this general pattern followed over the entire book, within each chapter, or both.

Mapping an Academic Work

Click on the image below to investigate the different components typical to an academic article in the social sciences and sciences.

Link to interactive "Anatomy of a Scholarly Article" presented by North Carolina State University Libraries

"Anatomy of a Scholarly Article" by North Carolina State University Libraries is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

How to Approach Reading Scholarly Material

When first encountering scholarly material, consider reading the following sections of the work in the order listed below to efficiently grasp the content of the work and evaluate how the material relates to your research needs:

  1. Abstract - The abstract provides a summary of the material, and reading it first will give you an immediate indication as to whether the material and its findings are relevant to your research.
  2. Introduction - The introduction details the research questions the material aims to explore and grounds the material in a field of inquiry. Establishing that information will clarify how the material is conversing with other works in the field and help you further decide whether the material is pertinent to your research interests.
  3. Conclusion - Look to the authors closing thoughts and how they are contextualizing them to see if the work's findings align with your argument.
  4. Methods/Results/Analysis - Look to these sections when you have deemed the work relevant to your research and when you are ready to closely analyze and evaluate the material.
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