What Types of Articles Do Academic Journals Publish?

By Grace Hamburger on Mar 25, 2020
eContent Pro
What Types of Articles Do Academic Journals Publish

To make the perfect chocolate cake, you combine flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and cocoa powder, and if you’re feeling creative, you add a cup of coffee for an extra kick. But what’s the recipe for a successful academic publication? Like a cake, successful research journals require different ingredients, and for journals, this involves several article types to keep the readers’ interest and provide opportunities for different types of research. Original research articles, letters, case studies, and review articles make up most academic publications, and here we will discuss what each article type means.

Original Research

The most common form of articles in academic publications are original research articles. These are detailed studies that report original research and make up most of the content in a scholarly journal. The format an original research article typically follows is a combination of hypothesis, introduction, background study, methods, results, interpretation of findings, and a discussion, but specific guidelines are different depending on the publisher and journal. Original research articles are extremely detailed, which often translates to lengthy manuscripts, and they involve large investments of time, energy, and resources.


Also called “short reports” or “brief communications,” letters go hand in hand with original research articles. These papers are short descriptions of the latest study or research findings and can be written by the original author or the editor. Letters are often seen with research that is time sensitive, like in quickly changing disciplines or when there is an important breakthrough with your topic. They are meant to be quick observations that create more interest in the subject, which means that they typically have a strict length limit and must be produced quickly in order to be published with the original research article.

Case Studies

While original research pulls from multiple sources, a case study is a detailed, in-depth account of one case. These articles can explore research methods, procedures, or specific phenomena that might occur during an experiment that other researchers could benefit from knowing. Case studies can involve qualitative or quantitative research methods and can be broken down into three different types of cases: key cases, outlier cases, and local knowledge cases. Key cases are when the researcher has an interest in the subject, outlier cases define cases that stick out from the norm, and local knowledge cases have a large amount of useful information that has yet to be reported. These articles run the gamut of scholarly research, from psychology to environmental science, and are regularly seen in academic publications.

Review Articles

As you might have already guessed, review articles do not present original research. Rather, this type of article discusses research and acts as a sort of progress report on one subject. Review articles often pull information from the previous year and give updates when applicable while also evaluating the progress and roadblocks on the subject thus far. Depending on the size and scope of the subject, review articles can either come as a series or as standalone articles. They typically cover research papers that span the entire spectrum of the subject and always provide extensive references to the source materials. Depending on the subject, review articles can either be literature or systematic in style. Some journals will not accept unsolicited review articles, so it is important to propose your review before official submission to ensure acceptance.

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