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ANTH 2010 Cultural Anthropology: Scholarly Literature Types

This is a course-specific guide covering resources for cultural anthropology.

Types of scholarly literature (Cornell University Libraries)

You will encounter many types of articles and it is important to distinguish between these different categories of scholarly literature.  Keep in mind the following definitions.

Peer-reviewed (or refereed):  Refers to articles that have undergone a rigorous review process, often including revisions to the original manuscript, by peers in their discipline, before publication in a scholarly journal.  This can include empirical studies, review articles, meta-analyses among others.

Empirical study (or primary article):  An empirical study is one that aims to gain new knowledge on a topic through direct or indirect observation and research.  These include quantitative or qualitative data and analysis. In science, an empirical article will often include the following sections:  Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion.

Review article:  In the social sciences literature, this is a type of article that provides a synthesis of existing research on a particular topic.  These are useful when you want to get an idea of a body of research that you are not yet familiar with.  It differs from a systematic review in that it does not aim to capture ALL of the research on a particular topic.

Systematic review:  This is a methodical and thorough literature review focused on a particular research question.  It's aim is to identify and synthesize all of the scholarly research on a particular topic in an unbiased, reproducible way to provide evidence for practice and policy-making.  It may involve a meta-analysis (see below). 

Meta-analysis:  This is a type of research study that combines or contrasts data from different independent studies in a new analysis in order to strengthen the understanding of a particular topic.  There are many methods, some complex, applied to performing this type of analysis.

From Tutorial: Scholarly Literature Types, Cornell University Library

Grey Literature

Society Communications and Conference Proceedings

Society publications are one of the most misleading and confusing types of publications for those unfamiliar with the varied forms of scholarly publications. This confusion is made worse by the fact that many databases will include society publications in its list of journal articles with little or no comment to help distinguish between the two. 

A society publication is essentially a trade magazine that is commissioned and distributed by a particular professional association (ex. AAA), company, sector (ex. Sociolinguistic), lobby group, interest group, and more. These are interesting places to learn about the field, but they are rarely peer reviewed and are not typically the place researchers will formally share their work. These publications are often written by journalists and will likely cover recent advancement and studies, but will not be the deep and authoritative source for this information. Because they cover the topic, however, they may be a good place to start if you're investigating a new study or line of research. These publications will also be an interesting window into the discipline you're thinking of entering. 

(From University of Maryland Library Anthropology libguide)

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article (NCSU Libraries)