Scientific journal articles report a latest research work and appear in a scientific journal. These articles help in furthering the progress of science by communicating research results and facilitating further research in the same field. To ensure quality and validity, scientific journal articles are peer-reviewed. As the core objective of scientific journal articles is to publish new research, they should include enough details regarding research calculations and procedures, so that an independent researcher can re-perform the experiment to verify original results. Each scientific journal article is then included in permanent scientific record and can be used for further research and higher education purpose. Such articles first appeared in 1665, when the French “Journal des scavans” and the English “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society” commenced publishing research findings.
Some scientific journals, such as “Nature”, “Science” and “Physical Review Letters” publish articles that report a breakthrough in their respective fields. The most reputable journal is not just highly selective in its publication of articles but it is also privileged for causing the greatest impact in its related field.
Scientific journal articles are highly technical; representing the latest research and experimental results in the scientific field covered by the journals they are published in. These field-focused articles seldom interest a layman and are comprehensible merely to the researchers and advanced students of the same scientific field. Scientific writing rules are rigorous and vary from journal to journal.
There are different types of scientific journal articles. The precise terminology varies by field and journal. However, some of the basic article types include:
o Letters – They are also known as “communications”. Letters briefly cover latest research findings and tend to be immediately published because they are considered urgent.
o Research notes – Like letters, these are brief descriptions of latest research work. However, research notes are considered less urgent than Letters.
o Supplemental Articles – They represent research results in tabular format. This form is used where the data is in large volumes. Supplement articles may include hundreds of pages with mere numerical data.
o Review Articles – These do not convey the results of an original and single research work but provide the reader with results of numerous articles on a particular topic. Therefore, reviews are topic-focused and provide journal references to the original research work. They may be narrative or a quantitative summary.
Many scientific journal articles follow the popular IMRAD scheme which was recommended by the “International Committee of Medical Journal Editors” [ICMJE). An article, under this scheme, begins with a concise summary called “abstract”. Then “introduction” describes the research background. Details of the research are provided in the “materials and methods” or “experimental” section. Outcome of the research is detailed under the sub-heading of “results and discussion” while “conclusion” places the research in context and discuss avenues for further research.
Some scientific journals such as “Science” include a news section where various scientific developments are reported and discussed. These articles are not written by scientists but by science journalists. In addition, few journals may include an editorial section and the well known “letters to editors”. Although such articles can be found within the main body of a scientific journal, albeit they are strictly not what are known as “scientific journal article” because neither these articles are peer-reviewed, nor they further the progress of science.