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Journal articles are articles written by a professional. They are released periodically or all at once, but would take several years of dedication before being published (Sociology). The authors analyze information on recent research and would often demonstrate their unique opinions about a certain subject. Journal articles may be one of the most widely shared and read by experts and students. It can be transferred from one scholar to another and will still be deemed important no matter what type of information is presented, whether it is about the field of science, psychology, or mathematics.
Even though articles are so broadly accepted and beloved by researchers, there are rarely any books or handbooks informing society about journal articles. During my research, I shockingly discovered that many students (including myself) were unaware of the importance and purpose of articles and how it is uniquely different from other types of academic writing. In order to mend this confusion, the history of articles, the meaning and types of peer-review, and the writing process must be explored.
The history of journal articles date back centuries ago in the late sixteenth century, but its earliest form takes place in the seventeenth century. During the mid-seventeenth century, societies like the Royal Society (founded in London in 1660) and the Académie des Sciences (discovered in Paris in 1666) represented the move towards “co-operative forum for scientists and those interested in scientific work” (Fjallbrant 5). The first journal article, The Journal des Sçavans, came to existence in Paris on January 5, 1665.
The journal was published on a weekly basis in order to supply readers with fresh and interesting news (Fjallbrant 4). This revolutionary article provided a structure and stimulus for other journals to follow. After the publications of The Journal des Sçavans, the Royal Society decided that a more philosophical type of publications was needed for particular accounts or experiments from the scientist in the group. From there, a series of works began to be published about the society’s scientific findings and opinions. Their works later dispersed throughout Europe inspiring many researchers to practice writing journal articles. These journal articles were seen, not only, as informative piece of information but also as a published form of communication between researchers.
The societies in the seventeenth century wanted to establish a way for researchers to share new information, results, methods, process, and products. In traditional forms of communication, it consisted of contacting colleague and teachers personally. As this may seem like a pleasant way to communicate, it did not finalize the speaker’s opinions and findings which permitted theft of the researchers’ ideas. Journal articles ensured “ownership of idea… claiming priority for a discovery, [and] established an accredited community of authors and readers” (Fjallbrant 3). It allowed writers and researchers the protection of their ideas and findings. The existence of the journals not only protected their ideas, but also allowed conversations between scientists to occur. These journals were accessible to all groups of people, who were scattered across Europe. The scientists were able to transport one idea to another without the need of meeting face-to-face. They simply had to provide one another a copy of their journal article. Once the colleagues were done reading, they may write letters to each other about their opinion on their peer’s article. This permitted the social recognition and diffusion of ideas.
Another important factor that occurred in the seventeenth century was the establishment of peer-review. Peer-review itself predates the existence of journal articles. “The first documented description of a peer-review process is in a book called Ethics of the Physician by Ishap bin Ali Al Rahwi of Al Raha, Syria” (Spier). However, peer-review later became engraved into the journal article process during the seventeenth century. Looking back on several journals, many articles consisted of editors, who reviewed the authors’ work.
Peer-review itself means the submission of a writer’s article to a peer, who is an expert in the field the author discusses in their article. The specialist would “basically validated and verified the information that [the writer) provides in the article” (Volkova). This increases the value and quality of the author’s writing. In a sense, it is similar to a stamp of approval which indicates to the reader that the information is creditable. This is the most profound difference of journal articles from other types of writing that it includes a peer-review process.
Several academic writings consist of peer-edits. The peer-edit method is when a student’s peer evaluates their piece of literary work for revisions, which sounds parallel the peer-review process. However, both edits have distinct differences. In the peer-review process, the editor is an expert in the writer’s field, whereas in peer-edit the editors are merely students, who study in the same class but are not experts. Another difference is that during peer-edits, the reviewer only savages for “general grammatical errors and overall coherence” (Volkova). On the other hand, the reviewer, who is peer-reviewing, has to glance over the grammar and structure and closely “verify the ideas and the information within the paper” (Volkova). This process is more time consuming than a typical peer-edit, which can be done in one day or even in one class period. The journal article is normally submitted to three to four specialists and takes around eleven to twelve weeks to be reviewed by each person (Bormann and Daniel 73). Even after advice is given to the author, the author is not ensured of a publication until further alteration is performed. Then the repetition of the submission and edits will repeat until the article is judged as credible.
Furthermore, the peer-review process has three types of peer-reviews. It can be open, blind, or double blind. Open review is the less desirable type of review since both collogues are aware of each other, which does not guarantee that the reviewer will objectively evaluate the article. In a blind review, the reviewer has no knowledge about the author’s existence but the author, on the other hand, is fully aware who the editor is. This type of review can be dangerous toward the reviewer since the author might develop anger and hatred about the specialist’s critiques. Finally, the safest and commonly used peer-review is double blind. This is when both parties are not conscious about the other person, which grants an unbiased review since the reviewer will not know where the journal “comes from so that it will not be personal” (Volkova).
Now moving onto the writing process. Like many essays, the journal articles follow the writing process. The writer would first begin with doing research and then follow by outlining their ideas and main points (Volkova). A journal article is usually structured differently depending on the author’s intent, whether the research was an explanatory research or theory testing. The structure is also influenced by the author’s personal writing style. “Generally, however, each article needs an [abstract, and introduction, a literature review a statement of the problem, description of method, results…conclusion” and a reference page (White 791). An abstract is always included in the very beginning of the article and would summarize the whole research in a couple of sentences. Within it, it should include the “research hypothesis, the sample, the sample size, data used, and the findings” (White 791). The introduction would then accompany afterwards by capturing the reader’s attention with a hook and setting the tone for the piece. The literature review is the section which assists the readers with understanding the problem that is discussed in the article and how it relates to the prior research. This prospect varies between papers but is fundamentally needed in all articles. The statement problem is the hypothesis and acts as a link between to the literature review and the description of methods. It will summarize the problems presented in the review and transition the readers to the author’s personal study. Next, the methods of research will follow along with the results. Here the authors will only discuss what was performed during the experiment or research and the statistical findings. The author will then connect the data to their theory and earlier empirical findings in the conclusion. Lastly, all articles essays will end with a reference list of all the sources used to support his or her journal articles.
At first, journal articles may seem unimportant and difficult to understand, but readers often come to realize the articles’ importance and likelihood to other types of writing. It bears the same fundamental qualities as other academic writing by expressing the writer’s opinions and by providing new information to the readers. The only major difference is that these articles are peer-reviewed, which puts it at a higher prestige compared to other information. For this reasons, experts and college students are encouraged to use these articles while researching. These journal articles existed since three hundred years ago in order to inform scholars about new and factual information. Even now, journal articles live up to their origin by enchanting readers with new and fascinating information.
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