Academia is a vast and diverse world. While it has the common goal/desire for the pursuit of knowledge, practitioners find themselves diverging in different methodologies and disciplines. Since there are many, many ways of conducting research, the ways in which they are presented are also different. 

 

Let’s look at the various types of articles that can be found in (peer-reviewed) journals. 

 

PRIMARY LITERATURE 

A researcher engages in primary research when they are field research of some sort. Original data is produced after conducting field work or carrying out experiments. 

 

1/ Dissertations and theses 

These are long (very long) essays elaborating on one particular topic. They are often the most important components at the end of an academic degree. The student presents their original work in an effort to secure their degree. 

While the terms “dissertation” and “thesis” are generally used interchangeably, in some contexts, a thesis is considered a part of a bachelor’s or master’s, whereas a dissertation is for doctoral programmes. 

 

2/ Case Studies 

When researchers examine and study particular instances of a phenomena, it is considered a case study. 

It is considered original research because the student goes out to collect qualitative or quantitative data to support their hypothesis/ 

Case studies are normally conducted in social sciences and life sciences. 

SECONDARY RESEARCH 

 

Secondary literature involves the researcher deriving from existing primary sources. It is often a compilation, evaluation or critique of existing research. Secondary research cites primary sources. 

 

3/ Reviews 

 

A review paper is a general summary of the progress (new discoveries and developments) of a scientific discipline over a period of time. Depending on the author, they may be extensive or introductory. The review paper serves many purposes: the main one being that it serves as an update on what has been happening in that particular field or discipline. 

Review papers can be read by students who wish to be introduced to a particular field or those who wish to catch up on its happenings. 

 

4/ Position papers 

 

Generally written in the domain of law, position papers are written to encourage debate and critical thinking. As is evident from its name, an author takes a position (often the opposition) in a current or critical issue at hand. 

Unlike a thesis, the author simply takes a theoretical stance in the matter without any experimentation or field work. 

 

That’s the end of our small introduction into the types of scholarly papers that you can submit to academic journals. Hope this helps you decide what kind of paper you want to write. 

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