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Scientific Writing

Resources and guidance for writing, citing and publishing in the sciences

Books on Scientific Writing

Writing with Style

What is a scholarly periodical?

Most scientific research is initially published in scholarly periodicals.  What does ‘scholarly’ mean?  Webster's Dictionary defines "scholarly" as

  • concerned with academic study, especially research;
  • exhibiting the methods and attitudes of a scholar;
  • having the manner and appearance of a scholar.

What is a scholarly periodical?
A scholarly periodical is a journal, the main purpose of which is to report on original research or experimentation to make it available to academic audience. The titles of the scholarly journals sometimes contain the words: Journal of..., Quarterly, Review, Research. In citations, the titles are usually abbreviated. Examples of scholarly journals: Brain Research, Cell, JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, Journal of Virology, Science, Nature, New England Journal of Medicine. Some scholarly journals are published by scientific associations, for example, American Geophysical Union or American Society for Microbiology; others are published by scientific publishers such as Elsevier or Marcel Dekker.

Characteristics of a scholarly periodical

  • Articles in scholarly journals are written by scholars (experts in the field) or by someone who has done research in the field;
  • Names and credentials are always provided;
  • The articles are usually long, providing in-depth analysis of topics. They often contain graphs, tables, and charts and few, if any, pictures;
  • Scholarly journals always cite their sources in the form of footnotes, bibliographies, or references;
  • The language of scholarly journals is that of the discipline covered (the jargon of a field) and assumes some scholarly background on the part of the reader;
  • Articles are usually structured and contain the following sections: abstract, literature review, methodology, study result, conclusion, bibliography.