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Types of journal articles

It is helpful to familiarise yourself with the different types of articles published by journals. Although it may appear there are a large number of types of articles published due to the wide variety of names they are published under, most articles published are one of the following types; Original Research, Review Articles, Short reports or Letters, Case Studies, Methodologies.

Original Research:

This is the most common type of journal manuscript used to publish full reports of data from research. It may be called an  Original Article, Research Article, Research, or just  Article, depending on the journal. The Original Research format is suitable for many different fields and different types of studies. It includes full Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion sections.

Short reports or Letters:

These papers communicate brief reports of data from original research that editors believe will be interesting to many researchers, and that will likely stimulate further research in the field. As they are relatively short the format is useful for scientists with results that are time sensitive (for example, those in highly competitive or quickly-changing disciplines). This format often has strict length limits, so some experimental details may not be published until the authors write a full Original Research manuscript. These papers are also sometimes called Brief communications .

Review Articles:

Review Articles provide a comprehensive summary of research on a certain topic, and a perspective on the state of the field and where it is heading. They are often written by leaders in a particular discipline after invitation from the editors of a journal. Reviews are often widely read (for example, by researchers looking for a full introduction to a field) and highly cited. Reviews commonly cite approximately 100 primary research articles.

TIP: If you would like to write a Review but have not been invited by a journal, be sure to check the journal website as some journals to not consider unsolicited Reviews. If the website does not mention whether Reviews are commissioned it is wise to send a pre-submission enquiry letter to the journal editor to propose your Review manuscript before you spend time writing it.  

Case Studies:

These articles report specific instances of interesting phenomena. A goal of Case Studies is to make other researchers aware of the possibility that a specific phenomenon might occur. This type of study is often used in medicine to report the occurrence of previously unknown or emerging pathologies.

Methodologies or Methods

These articles present a new experimental method, test or procedure. The method described may either be completely new, or may offer a better version of an existing method. The article should describe a demonstrable advance on what is currently available.

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Research articles

Ultra-processed food consumption and all cause and cause specific mortality, comparative effectiveness of second line oral antidiabetic treatments among people with type 2 diabetes mellitus, efficacy of psilocybin for treating symptoms of depression, reverse total shoulder replacement versus anatomical total shoulder replacement for osteoarthritis, effect of combination treatment with glp-1 receptor agonists and sglt-2 inhibitors on incidence of cardiovascular and serious renal events, prenatal opioid exposure and risk of neuropsychiatric disorders in children, temporal trends in lifetime risks of atrial fibrillation and its complications, antipsychotic use in people with dementia, predicting the risks of kidney failure and death in adults with moderate to severe chronic kidney disease, impact of large scale, multicomponent intervention to reduce proton pump inhibitor overuse, esketamine after childbirth for mothers with prenatal depression, glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist use and risk of thyroid cancer, use of progestogens and the risk of intracranial meningioma, delirium and incident dementia in hospital patients, derivation and external validation of a simple risk score for predicting severe acute kidney injury after intravenous cisplatin, quality and safety of artificial intelligence generated health information, large language models and the generation of health disinformation, 25 year trends in cancer incidence and mortality among adults in the uk, cervical pessary versus vaginal progesterone in women with a singleton pregnancy, comparison of prior authorization across insurers, diagnostic accuracy of magnetically guided capsule endoscopy with a detachable string for detecting oesophagogastric varices in adults with cirrhosis, ultra-processed food exposure and adverse health outcomes, added benefit and revenues of oncology drugs approved by the ema, exposure to air pollution and hospital admission for cardiovascular diseases, short term exposure to low level ambient fine particulate matter and natural cause, cardiovascular, and respiratory morbidity, optimal timing of influenza vaccination in young children, effect of exercise for depression, association of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease with cardiovascular disease and all cause death in patients with type 2 diabetes, duration of cpr and outcomes for adults with in-hospital cardiac arrest, clinical effectiveness of an online physical and mental health rehabilitation programme for post-covid-19 condition, atypia detected during breast screening and subsequent development of cancer, publishers’ and journals’ instructions to authors on use of generative ai in academic and scientific publishing, effectiveness of glp-1 receptor agonists on glycaemic control, body weight, and lipid profile for type 2 diabetes, neurological development in children born moderately or late preterm, invasive breast cancer and breast cancer death after non-screen detected ductal carcinoma in situ, all cause and cause specific mortality in obsessive-compulsive disorder, acute rehabilitation following traumatic anterior shoulder dislocation, perinatal depression and risk of mortality, undisclosed financial conflicts of interest in dsm-5-tr, effect of risk mitigation guidance opioid and stimulant dispensations on mortality and acute care visits, update to living systematic review on sars-cov-2 positivity in offspring and timing of mother-to-child transmission, perinatal depression and its health impact, christmas 2023: common healthcare related instruments subjected to magnetic attraction study, using autoregressive integrated moving average models for time series analysis of observational data, demand for morning after pill following new year holiday, christmas 2023: christmas recipes from the great british bake off, effect of a doctor working during the festive period on population health: experiment using doctor who episodes, christmas 2023: analysis of barbie medical and science career dolls, christmas 2023: effect of chair placement on physicians’ behavior and patients’ satisfaction, management of chronic pain secondary to temporomandibular disorders, christmas 2023: projecting complete redaction of clinical trial protocols, christmas 2023: a drug target for erectile dysfunction to help improve fertility, sexual activity, and wellbeing, christmas 2023: efficacy of cola ingestion for oesophageal food bolus impaction, conservative management versus laparoscopic cholecystectomy in adults with gallstone disease, social media use and health risk behaviours in young people, untreated cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2 and cervical cancer, air pollution deaths attributable to fossil fuels, implementation of a high sensitivity cardiac troponin i assay and risk of myocardial infarction or death at five years, covid-19 vaccine effectiveness against post-covid-19 condition, association between patient-surgeon gender concordance and mortality after surgery, intravascular imaging guided versus coronary angiography guided percutaneous coronary intervention, treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms in men in primary care using a conservative intervention, autism intervention meta-analysis of early childhood studies, effectiveness of the live zoster vaccine during the 10 years following vaccination, effects of a multimodal intervention in primary care to reduce second line antibiotic prescriptions for urinary tract infections in women, pyrotinib versus placebo in combination with trastuzumab and docetaxel in patients with her2 positive metastatic breast cancer, association of dcis size and margin status with risk of developing breast cancer post-treatment, racial differences in low value care among older patients in the us, pharmaceutical industry payments and delivery of low value cancer drugs, rosuvastatin versus atorvastatin in adults with coronary artery disease, clinical effectiveness of septoplasty versus medical management for nasal airways obstruction, ultrasound guided lavage with corticosteroid injection versus sham lavage with and without corticosteroid injection for calcific tendinopathy of shoulder, early versus delayed antihypertensive treatment in patients with acute ischaemic stroke, mortality risks associated with floods in 761 communities worldwide, interactive effects of ambient fine particulate matter and ozone on daily mortality in 372 cities, association between changes in carbohydrate intake and long term weight changes, future-case control crossover analysis for adjusting bias in case crossover studies, association between recently raised anticholinergic burden and risk of acute cardiovascular events, suboptimal gestational weight gain and neonatal outcomes in low and middle income countries: individual participant data meta-analysis, efficacy and safety of an inactivated virus-particle vaccine for sars-cov-2, effect of invitation letter in language of origin on screening attendance: randomised controlled trial in breastscreen norway, visits by nurse practitioners and physician assistants in the usa, non-erosive gastro-oesophageal reflux disease and oesophageal adenocarcinoma, venous thromboembolism with use of hormonal contraception and nsaids, food additive emulsifiers and risk of cardiovascular disease, balancing risks and benefits of cannabis use, promoting activity, independence, and stability in early dementia and mild cognitive impairment, effect of home cook interventions for salt reduction in china, cancer mortality after low dose exposure to ionising radiation, effect of a smartphone intervention among university students with unhealthy alcohol use, long term risk of death and readmission after hospital admission with covid-19 among older adults, mortality rates among patients successfully treated for hepatitis c, association between antenatal corticosteroids and risk of serious infection in children, the proportions of term or late preterm births after exposure to early antenatal corticosteroids, and outcomes, safety of ba.4-5 or ba.1 bivalent mrna booster vaccines, comparative effectiveness of booster vaccines among adults aged ≥50 years, third dose vaccine schedules against severe covid-19 during omicron predominance in nordic countries, private equity ownership and impacts on health outcomes, costs, and quality, healthcare disruption due to covid-19 and avoidable hospital admission, follow us on, content links.

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What is an original research article?

An original research article is a report of research activity that is written by the researchers who conducted the research or experiment. Original research articles may also be referred to as: “primary research articles” or “primary scientific literature.” In science courses, instructors may also refer to these as “peer-reviewed articles” or “refereed articles.”

Original research articles in the sciences have a specific purpose, follow a scientific article format, are peer reviewed, and published in academic journals.

Identifying Original Research: What to Look For

An "original research article" is an article that is reporting original research about new data or theories that have not been previously published. That might be the results of new experiments, or newly derived models or simulations. The article will include a detailed description of the methods used to produce them, so that other researchers can verify them. This description is often found in a section called "methods" or "materials and methods" or similar. Similarly, the results will generally be described in great detail, often in a section called "results."

Since the original research article is reporting the results of new research, the authors should be the scientists who conducted that research. They will have expertise in the field, and will usually be employed by a university or research lab.

In comparison, a newspaper or magazine article (such as in  The New York Times  or  National Geographic ) will usually be written by a journalist reporting on the actions of someone else.

An original research article will be written by and for scientists who study related topics. As such, the article should use precise, technical language to ensure that other researchers have an exact understanding of what was done, how to do it, and why it matters. There will be plentiful citations to previous work, helping place the research article in a broader context. The article will be published in an academic journal, follow a scientific format, and undergo peer-review.

Original research articles in the sciences follow the scientific format. ( This tutorial from North Carolina State University illustrates some of the key features of this format.)

Look for signs of this format in the subject headings or subsections of the article. You should see the following:

Scientific research that is published in academic journals undergoes a process called "peer review."

The peer review process goes like this:

  • A researcher writes a paper and sends it in to an academic journal, where it is read by an editor
  • The editor then sends the article to other scientists who study similar topics, who can best evaluate the article
  • The scientists/reviewers examine the article's research methodology, reasoning, originality, and sginificance
  • The scientists/reviewers then make suggestions and comments to impove the paper
  • The original author is then given these suggestions and comments, and makes changes as needed
  • This process repeats until everyone is satisfied and the article can be published within the academic journal

For more details about this process see the Peer Reviewed Publications guide.

This journal article  is an example. It was published in the journal  Royal Society Open Science  in 2015. Clicking on the button that says "Review History" will show the comments by the editors, reviewers and the author as it went through the peer review process. The "About Us" menu provides details about this journal; "About the journal" under that tab includes the statement that the journal is peer reviewed.

Review articles

There are a variety of article types published in academic, peer-reviewed journals, but the two most common are original research articles and review articles . They can look very similar, but have different purposes and structures.

Like original research articles, review articles are aimed at scientists and undergo peer-review. Review articles often even have “abstract,” “introduction,” and “reference” sections. However, they will not (generally) have a “methods” or “results” section because they are not reporting new data or theories. Instead, they review the current state of knowledge on a topic.

Press releases, newspaper or magazine articles

These won't be in a formal scientific format or be peer reviewed. The author will usually be a journalist, and the audience will be the general public. Since most readers are not interested in the precise details of the research, the language will usually be nontechnical and broad. Citations will be rare or nonexistent.

Tips for Finding Original research Articles

Search for articles in one of the library databases recommend for your subject area . If you are using Google, try searching in Google Scholar instead and you will get results that are more likely to be original research articles than what will come up in a regular Google search!

For tips on using library databases to find articles, see our Library DIY guides .

Tips for Finding the Source of a News Report about Science

If you've seen or heard a report about a new scientific finding or claim, these tips can help you find the original source:

  • Often, the report will mention where the original research was published; look for sentences like "In an article published yesterday in the journal  Nature ..." You can use this to find the issue of the journal where the research was published, and look at the table of contents to find the original article.
  • The report will often name the researchers involved. You can search relevant databases for their name and the topic of the report to find the original research that way.
  • Sometimes you may have to go through multiple articles to find the original source. For example, a video or blog post may be based on a newspaper article, which in turn is reporting on a scientific discovery published in another journal; be sure to find the original research article.
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Scientific Manuscript Writing: Original Research, Case Reports, Review Articles

  • First Online: 02 March 2024

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original research journal articles

  • Kimberly M. Rathbun 5  

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Manuscripts are used to communicate the findings of your work with other researchers. Writing your first manuscript can be a challenge. Journals provide guidelines to authors which should be followed closely. The three major types of articles (original research, case reports, and review articles) all generally follow the IMRAD format with slight variations in content. With planning and thought, manuscript writing does not have to be a daunting task.

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Rathbun, K.M. (2023). Scientific Manuscript Writing: Original Research, Case Reports, Review Articles. In: Olympia, R.P., Werley, E.B., Lubin, J.S., Yoon-Flannery, K. (eds) An Emergency Physician’s Path. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-47873-4_80

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Open Access


Research Article

Content and form of original research articles in general major medical journals

Roles Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Project administration, Resources, Software, Validation, Visualization, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing

Affiliation Institut für Medizinische Biometrie und Statistik (IMBS), Universität zu Lübeck, Universitätsklinikum-Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany

Roles Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Project administration, Resources, Supervision, Validation, Visualization, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing

* E-mail: [email protected]

Affiliations Cardio-CARE, Medizincampus Davos, Davos, Switzerland, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, University of KwaZulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Department of Cardiology, University Heart and Vascular Center Hamburg, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany, Centre for Population Health Innovation (POINT), University Heart and Vascular Center Hamburg, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany, Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Lausanne, Switzerland

ORCID logo

  • Nicole Heßler, 
  • Andreas Ziegler


  • Published: June 28, 2023
  • https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0287677
  • Peer Review
  • Reader Comments

Table 1

The title of an article is the main entrance for reading the full article. The aim of our work therefore is to examine differences of title content and form between original research articles and its changes over time. Using PubMed we examined title properties of 500 randomly chosen original research articles published in the general major medical journals BMJ, JAMA, Lancet, NEJM and PLOS Medicine between 2011 and 2020. Articles were manually evaluated with two independent raters. To analyze differences between journals and changes over time, we performed random effect meta-analyses and logistic regression models. Mentioning of results, providing any quantitative or semi-quantitative information, using a declarative title, a dash or a question mark were rarely used in the title in all considered journals. The use of a subtitle, methods-related items, such as mentioning of methods, clinical context or treatment increased over time (all p < 0.05), while the use of phrasal tiles decreased over time (p = 0.044). Not a single NEJM title contained a study name, while the Lancet had the highest usage of it (45%). The use of study names increased over time (per year odds ratio: 1.13 (95% CI: [1.03‒1.24]), p = 0.008). Investigating title content and form was time-consuming because some criteria could only be adequately evaluated by hand. Title content changed over time and differed substantially between the five major medical journals. Authors are advised to carefully study titles of journal articles in their target journal prior to manuscript submission.

Citation: Heßler N, Ziegler A (2023) Content and form of original research articles in general major medical journals. PLoS ONE 18(6): e0287677. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0287677

Editor: Boyen Huang, University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, UNITED STATES

Received: March 10, 2023; Accepted: June 10, 2023; Published: June 28, 2023

Copyright: © 2023 Heßler, Ziegler. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Data Availability: All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files.

Funding: The authors received no specific funding for this work.

Competing interests: There are no patents, products in development or marketed products to declare. AZ is a licensed Tim Albert trainer. Tim Albert trainings deal with advising people how to write medical papers. AZ has held several courses in the past based on Albert’s concept. This does not alter our adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and material.


Researchers have the duty to make the results of their research on human subjects publicly available according to the declaration of Helsinki [ 1 ], and many recommendations for the reporting of studies have been developed. An overview on these reporting guidelines is provided by the EQUATOR (Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research) network, which aims to tackle the problems of poor reporting [ 2 ]. One consequence of systematic reporting is that many scientific articles are organized in the same way [ 3 , 4 ], and they generally follow the IMRAD structure, which stands for Introduction, Methods, Results, And Discussion. The IMRAD structure is also standard for the writing of abstracts. It is therefore of interest to researchers how they can individualize their reports to increase the citation counts, which is one important measure for career advancement [ 5 ].

Approximately 30 factors affecting citation frequency have already been identified [ 6 – 9 ]. While journal- and author related factors are generally not modifiable, some article-specific factors are subject to active modification by the authors. Especially the title has been proposed as a modifiable component of a research article [ 9 – 11 ]. Researchers should use titles that accurately reflect the content of their work and allow others easily to find and re-use their research [ 12 ]. Most research has focused on the form of article titles because these analyses could be performed automatically and are not very time-consuming [ 9 , 13 , 14 ].

While the article content has been studied well both in features, such as tense, voice and personal pronouns, and in the IMRAD sections between different research disciplines, title content has received less attention, and the main focus was title length [ 15 , 16 ]. One reason could be the lack of automated internet searches until approximately 25 years ago. For example, PubMed was first released in 1996, Web of Science is online since 1997 and Google Scholar started not earlier than in 2004. With the advent of automated internet-based searches the importance of the title has changed, and it is now the “billboard” of a research article [ 17 ]. Another reason could be that these evaluations have to be made manually, and they are thus time-consuming [ 18 ]. An additional time-consuming factor could be that guidelines such as the Standards for Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy (STARD) statement [ 19 ] strongly recommend that at least two observers should do an independent evaluation where applicable.

Most articles investigating the form of the title compared whether the title was a full sentence [ 20 ], descriptive, indicative, or a question [ 18 , 21 ], or whether the title included non-alphanumeric characters, such as a colon or dash [ 22 ]. Very few publications looked at other title components of a research article. Specifically, Kerans, Marshall [ 23 ] compared the frequency of Methods mentioning or Results mentioning for the general major medical journals, specifically the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the BMJ, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and the Lancet by analyzing the first approximately 60 articles published either in 2015 or 2017 in each of the journals. Both articles investigated only a few months from a single publication year per journal. The development of title content over time was thus not considered.

The aim of our work therefore was to examine properties of title content for original research articles published in one of the five major clinical journals (BMJ, JAMA, Lancet, NEJM, and PLOS Medicine (PLOS)) over the 10-year period from 2011 until 2020. Specifically, we aimed at identifying differences between the five journals and changes over time regarding title content and title form. We also compared our findings to those of Kerans et al. [ 15 , 23 ].

Materials and methods

Search in medline and web of science.

The search strategy has been described in detail elsewhere [ 9 ]. In brief, we first extracted all original research articles finally published between 2011 and 2020 in the five major clinical journals BMJ, JAMA, Lancet, NEJM, and PLOS. The restriction to the publication year 2011 allows for proper comparisons between journals because PLOS was reshaped in 2009 [ 24 ].

The variables PubMed identifier (PMID), journal name, article title, author names, publication year, citation, PubMed Central identifier (PMCID) and digital object identifier (DOI) were extracted from the Medline search. From the Web of Science, we reduced available information to journal name, article title, PMID, abstract for the identification of original research articles, DOI and publication date. Both PMID and DOI were used to merge articles identified in Medline (n = 8396) and the Web of Science (n = 10267). Articles being listed with an abstract remained in the data set, while articles only listed in the Web of Science were excluded. Articles being only downloaded in the Medline files were checked whether they were indeed original research articles. If not, they were excluded as well. After data cleaning, a set of 8096 articles was available.

Evaluation of title content and form

To investigate title content and form, we randomly selected 500 original articles from the years 2011 to 2020. The random selection was done with stratification by journal and year so that ten original articles per year (100 articles per journal) were randomly chosen. To avoid a priori information on the specific journal article, only the title and the PMID were presented in the database. In addition, the order of the 500 articles was randomized prior to evaluation. All article titles were evaluated manually by two raters/authors. Both raters performed a training and independently evaluated 25 randomly selected journal articles—five per journal—prior to the evaluation of the 500 articles. These training articles were excluded from the main evaluation. Conflicts in ratings were solved by agreement.

Items for title content and form are displayed in Table 1 and were inspired by other works [ 15 , 25 , 26 ]. One reviewer asked for the discoverability in each of the title items, therefore, we provided two examples of article titles with the result of our evaluation in Table 1 .


  • PPT PowerPoint slide
  • PNG larger image
  • TIFF original image


The first block of Table 1 reports results on title content. Title content was divided into the topics Methods and Results. The former is concerned with the mentioning of methods in the title, such as the study design or a novel technique used in the paper [ 15 ]. Other elements from the methods concern the mentioning of a patient population, the geography, the clinical context, an intervention, and the use of study names in the title. The latter examines results mentioned in the manuscript. The first question was whether results were stated in the title at all. More detailed were the questions whether quantitative information or semiquantitative or ordinal information was provided [ 26 ]. It was also noted whether the title reported on a relation between two or more variables [ 26 ].

The second block of Table 1 is related to the form of a title divided into the topics Methods, and Conclusion/Discussion. The use of abbreviations, dashes and subtitles was investigated for the Methods. The three single items for Conclusion/Discussion were whether the title was declarative, phrasal, or formulated as a question.

Recently, we performed an analysis after an automatic search for country and city mentioning in the title by the use of the R package maps [ 9 ], and we did not expect substantial differences to our hand search.

Sample size considerations

The main aim of our work was to investigate trends over time by a regression model. In general, regression models have a sufficient sample for a single independent variable, such as time, if n ≈ 50 [ 27 , 28 ]. Specifically, for a weak effect size of R 2 = 0.14 [ 29 ], the required sample size is 51. In case of a weak effect size of Cohen’s f [ 29 ] with f 2 = R 2 / (1 –R 2 ) = 0.14, the required sample size is 403 to achieve a power of 80%. A sample size of 500 as used in our work yields a power of 87.75% at a significance level of 5%.

Descriptive statistics for the specified title properties, i.e., absolute and relative frequencies were reported for each journal over time, refraining of descriptive p-values for investigating journal differences. Fisher’s exact tests were performed at a significance level of 5% to compare the findings of this study with those of Kerans et al. [ 15 , 23 ] regarding methods mentioning, patient population, geography, clinical context, and treatment. Corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) were provided. Furthermore, overall tests were performed to compare frequencies of these items between all journals. Bias-corrected Cramérs V effect measures were estimated with corresponding parametric bootstrapped CIs. The DerSimonian and Laird [ 30 ] (DSL) approach was used to perform random effect (RE) meta-analyses, which allows for variability in the variables of interest properties between journals and over time. The logit transformation was used for estimating the pooled proportions [ 31 ], and standard errors were not back-transformed.

The effect of time regarding the specific title properties was investigated by logistic regression models, if appropriate. Post hoc comparisons for the identification of homogeneous subgroups were performed using Tukey’s HSD. Associations between title properties and the journals were analyzed using likelihood ratio tests. Effect estimates, i.e., odds ratios and corresponding 95% CI were reported for all analyses, and the journal BMJ was used as reference category. An odds ratio of x.x being greater than 1 indicates an x.x fold increased chance containing the specific item for an one-year difference adjusted for the variable journal.

Data and R code for all analyses are provided in S1 and S2 Files , respectively.

A total of 500 randomly selected original research articles from 5 medical journals were analyzed regarding the selected title items (see Table 1 ) . In Table 2 , the descriptive statistics, i.e., absolute and relative frequencies for all title properties over the years are shown, respectively for each journal. Results of the meta-analyses are provided in detail in S3 File , sections 4 and 5 .


Absolute and relative frequencies (parenthesis) are shown.



In terms of the title content topic methods, the NEJM deviated from the other journals regarding the methods mentioning. While methods were mentioned in at least 93% of the article titles in BMJ, Lancet and PLOS, about the half (47%) was in JAMA and 11% in NEJM article titles. Similar results were reported by Kerans et al. [ 15 , 23 ] for BMJ, JAMA and Lancet, but proportions differed between Lancet titles ( Table 3 ). The mentioning of methods increased over time (OR: 1.12 (95% CI: [1.01‒1.24]), p = 0.025, Fig 1 and S3 File , section 6.1.1 ), i.e., methods were mentioned more frequently in the article titles more recently.


Displayed are odds ratios (square) per increase by one year, corresponding 95% confidence intervals (whisker) and p-values (numbers).



Corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) are shown in brackets. Results of PLOS Medicine are missing because Kerans et al. did not examine article titles of this journal.


Lowest and highest numbers for the mentioning of the patient population were in the BMJ (62%) and the NEJM (78%), respectively. For the mentioning of the patient population, neither an increase over time (OR: 1.06 (95% CI: [0.99‒1.13]), p = 0.100, Fig 1 ) nor substantial differences between the journals ( S3 File , section 6.1.2 ) could be observed.

About half of the PLOS titles (52%) contained any geographic information, but only 31% of the BMJ titles (see Table 2 ). Frequencies were only 16% and 17% for JAMA and Lancet, respectively, and 9% for NEJM titles. These findings are in line with Kerans et al. [ 15 , 23 ], except for the BMJ, where Kerans et al. observed that 15.8% of the articles mentioned geographic information ( Table 3 ). Mentioning of geographic information varied over time both within each journal ( S3 File , section and over the journals ( S3 File , section ). This is consistent with the results from the logistic regression analysis (OR: 1.07 (95% CI: [0.99‒1.16]), p = 0.072, Fig 1 and S3 File , section 6.1.3 ).

The clinical context was mentioned in 73% of BMJ titles, while it was mentioned at least 80% in the other four journals. This is in line with Kerans et al. [ 15 , 23 ] ( Table 3 ). Additionally, we observed an increase of clinical context mentioning over time (OR: 1.10 (95% CI: [1.01‒1.19]), p = 0.025, Fig 1 and S3 File , section 6.1.4 ).

Only 27% in PLOS and 30% in BMJ provided some treatment information in the title, while for the other three journals at least 50% of the article titles mentioned a treatment. Our results did not show any differences from those of Kerans et al. [ 15 , 23 ] ( Table 3 ). Over time the naming of treatments in the title increased (OR: 1.08 (95% CI: [1.02‒1.16]), p = 0.015, Fig 1 and S3 File , section 6.1.5 ).

There was no NEJM title containing a study name while Lancet had the highest usage of it (45%). The analysis over time showed a trend over time (OR: 1.13 (95% CI: [1.03‒1.24]), p = 0.008) and substantial differences between the journals ( S3 File , section 6.1.6 ).

Regarding the title topic results, only 6 out of the total of 500 articles mentioned results in their titles. This is in line with the findings of Kerans et al. [ 15 , 23 ], who reported that 1.9% of NEJM titles mentioned results. No article provided any quantitative information in its title, and only 4 of 500 articles provided semi-quantitative information in their title. Because of very low numbers, no further analyses were performed for these criteria.

A relation between variables was used least frequently in the NEJM (23%), followed by the Lancet (35%). The other three journals mentioned a relation in more than half of the articles ( Table 2 ). These differences between journals were confirmed in regression analysis ( S3 File , section 6.2.4 ). However, an increase over time could not be observed (p = 0.858, Fig 1 ).

In terms of the title form topic methods, abbreviations were less used in NEJM titles and most used in Lancet titles, 24% and 55 respectively (see Table 2 ). An increase use over time was observed (OR: 1.13 (95% CI: [1.05‒1.20]), p < 0.001, Fig 1 ) as well as differences between journals ( S3 File , section 7.1.1) .

Dashes were rarely used. Only three articles in BMJ and two articles in NEJM used a dash ( Table 2 ). Further analyses were not performed because of these low frequencies.

A subtitle was used in at least 98% of the articles in BMJ, Lancet, and PLOS, while only 41% of JAMA titles and only 2% of NEJM titles used subtitles. These clear differences between the journals were confirmed with the regression analysis ( S3 File , section 7.1.2 ). Moreover, the usage of subtitles increased over time (OR: 1.22 (95% CI: [1.07‒1.38]), p < 0.003 , Fig 1 ).

Finally, regarding the title form topic discussion, not a single article had a declarative title in our analyses ( Table 2 ). Phrasal titles were present in 3% of JAMA, 7% of NEJM, 11% of BMJ, 12% of Lancet, and 15% of PLOS titles. Significant differences between journals could not be observed ( S3 File , section 7.2.2 ). A decrease of phrasal titles over time was observed in the regression analysis (OR: 0.90 (95% CI: [0.81‒1.00]), p < 0.044, Fig 1 and S3 File , section 7.2.2 ).

Only three of 500 article titles were written as a question ( Table 2 ). Kerans et al. [ 15 , 23 ] observed similar low frequencies; and they reported 3.9% for the BMJ and 1.3% for Lancet articles with a question symbol, and none for both JAMA and NEJM ( Table 3 ).

Geographic information–Manual versus automated search with the maps package

The comparison of our hand search on the mentioning of geographic information revealed substantial differences to the automated search with the R package maps [ 9 ].

In detail, respectively, 31% vs. 13% for BMJ, 16% vs. 3% for JAMA, 17% vs. 9% for the Lancet, 9% vs. 3% for the NEJM and 52% vs. 29% for PLOS articles contained any geographical information in their titles for the hand and automatic search. The automated search thus led to fewer titles with any geographic information.

Title content properties varied substantially between original research articles published in the general major medical journals. Furthermore, title content and form changed over time. Differences between journals were specifically observed in the use of subtitles. While almost all articles from the BMJ and PLOS had subtitles, only two of the NEJM articles had a subtitle. Previously, we and others showed that the colon was most used in titles to split a title into multiple parts rather than any other separator [ 9 , 15 , 23 ]. Here, we furthermore showed that the proportion of paper with subtitles increased over time.

Substantial differences between journals were also observed for the mentioning of methods, the patient population, the geography, the interventional treatment, and the use of an abbreviation in the title. In addition, there were substantial differences in the use of a study name in the title. For example, while no article published in the NEJM used a study name, almost half (45%) of the studies in the Lancet used one. Some content criteria were mainly not or rarely used in all considered journals, such as a dash, mentioning of results, using a declarative title, or a question mark. This was in contrast to Paiva, Lima [ 32 ] who showed for PLOS and BMC journals that approximately 40% of the articles mentioned the results, and such articles were more frequently cited than work mentioning methods. In our study, only 6 articles out of 500 mentioned results in the title, while 344 out of the 500 articles mentioned of methods. Our findings are in line with general guidelines that declamatory titles, i.e., titles that give study results should be avoided [ 33 ]; see, e.g., instructions to authors for the Lancet. Authors should thus avoid providing quantitative or semi-quantitative information in the title. In fact, since the title is a one-line summary, the conclusions could be spread out into the world without reading at least the abstract or the full text of the article. Aleixandre-Benavent and colleagues go a step further and provide recommendations what a title should contain, and how it should not be constructed [ 16 ].

Our work focused on the general major medical journals plus the online only journal PLOS. Between the printed journals, there were substantial differences regarding the content of article titles [ 9 ]. One of the reasons could be in the instructions for authors, which differ in the provided information on the construction of a title. Specifically, the NEJM title had the lowest number of frequencies for a couple of criteria, such as the subtitle, methods mentioning, geography, abbreviations, and relation. No NEJM title contained a study name. However, the clinical context and the patient population was most frequently described in NEJM article titles. Differences between printed and online journals were obvious using geographic information in the title or usage of a phrasal title occurring more often in the online journal PLOS.

Subtitles are now more frequently used than a decade ago. Furthermore, the mentioning of methods increased in the 10 years from 2011 to 2020. This change in the title may be caused by the increased use of reporting guidelines, such as the CONSORT statement [ 34 ], which states that a randomized controlled trial should be identifiable as randomized in the title. The instructions for authors of all considered journals state that subtitles should be used for reporting the study design and/or authors should follow the respective reporting guidelines of their study. In fact, authors should look out a copy of the target journal and identify its preferences [ 35 ].

Our results are in line with the recommendations from the journal-specific instructions for authors, except NEJM. The NEJM does not follow the CONSORT statement using subtitles for randomized controlled trials, see also [ 1 ]. For the other four journals, the mentioning of the study design or the type of analysis is almost always done using subtitles as recommended. Furthermore, our results for JAMA using no declarative titles, no results mentioning or using questions in the title match with its recommendations.

Research has so far concentrated on the form of article titles rather than its content. While some authors investigated title content in BMJ, JAMA, Lancet and NEJM for a specific time, generally a single year [ 15 , 23 , 36 ], the development of title content over time has rarely been studied [ 37 ]. A strength of our work thus is the availability of all original articles over a time span of 10 years [ 9 ]. From this database, we randomly selected a subset of articles for manual assessment. These articles were evaluated by two raters according to a pre-specified coding plan with examples and training. Title evaluations were then done blinded by year and journal.

We did not expect different journal-specific frequencies regarding the geographic information in the title compared to our recent work [ 9 ], in which we performed an automatic search for country and city mentioning in the title by the use of the R package maps [ 9 ]. However, frequencies differed substantially. The automated search led to fewer titles with any geographic information. For example, the maps package did not contain countries, such as ‘England’, continents, abbreviation, such as ‘U.S.’, or terms, such as ‘English’. The main reasons for the discrepancies were for the use of country-specific abbreviations and additional country-specific terms. However, other tools or packages might have been more appropriate for the geographical query than the maps package.

One limitation of our study is that we relied on the quality of the data provided by the PubMed database [ 38 ]. Another limitation of our work is that additional variables could have been considered, e.g., more complex title content [ 12 , 16 , 22 ].

A further limitation is the sample size of 500 articles, i.e., 10 articles per journal and year. With a sample size substantially larger than 1000 articles we would have been able to study the association of title characteristics with citation counts. For example, the total sample size of our previous study, which was based on an automated search was 8096 articles [ 9 ]. With 500 articles, 95% confidence intervals are approximately 4 times larger (√8096 / √500 = 4.02), and many results, such as the association between the number of citations would not have been significant. The sample size used in this study is approximately twice that of [ 15 , 23 ], and this study with 500 articles was powered to reliably detect trends over time.

In future research, it would be of interest to analyze the effect of title content properties on citation frequencies. It would also be interesting to compare specific journals with general medical journals.

In conclusion, title content differed substantially between the five major medical journals BMJ, JAMA, Lancet, NEJM and PLOS. Furthermore, title content changed over time. We recommend that authors study titles of articles recently published in their target journal when formulating the manuscript title. Analyses of title content may generally require manual time-consuming inspections.

Supporting information

S1 file. data..


S2 File. R markdown file for analyses.


S3 File. Results.


  • View Article
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  • 17. Belcher WL. Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks. A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. 2 ed. London: Sage; 2021.
  • 29. Cohen J. Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences. 2nd ed ed. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum; 1988.
  • 31. Lipsey MW, Wilson DB. Practical Meta-Analysis. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publishing; 2000.
  • 35. Albert T. Winning the Publications Game: The Smart Way to Write Your Paper and Get It Published. 4th ed. Boca Raton: CRC Press; 2016.


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Scholarly Articles and Journals

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Original Research Articles

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Research articles, empirical, research primary research, are based on original research. If you need to limit your sources to research articles, you must be able to tell the difference. Most research articles will contain the following:

A summary of the article. (Note: Abstracts appear in reviews or secondary articles as well.)

Sometimes called "methodology" or "materials and methods," this section describes the author's research methods and tools: experiment, survey, data sources, etc.


Also called "findings," this is the section of the article in which raw data are presented.


Sometimes called "analysis," this is the section in which the author analyzes the data.

The author's conclusions based on the analysis.

List of references to works cited in the article.

These standard parts of a research article may not always be labeled, and sometimes they are combined (for example, "Data and Methods"). Still, every research article indicates what methods and tools were used to conduct the research, what the results were, and how the author interprets those results.

Not every article in a scholarly journal contains research or analysis. Scholarly journals may also include:

  • Literature reviews - often reviews original research
  • Book reviews
  • Meta-Analysis or systematic reviews - analysis of original research 
  • Editorials or commentaries
  • Speeches and interviews
  • Conference reports

These are not original or primary research articles. 

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What is Original Research?

Original research is considered a primary source.

An article is considered original research if...

  • it is the report of a study written by the researchers who actually did the study.
  • the researchers describe their hypothesis or research question and the purpose of the study.
  • the researchers detail their research methods.
  • the results of the research are reported.
  • the researchers interpret their results and discuss possible implications.

There is no one way to easily tell if an article is a research article like there is for peer-reviewed articles in the Ulrich's database. The only way to be sure is to read the article to verify that it is written by the researchers and that they have explained all of their findings, in addition to listing their methodologies, results, and any conclusions based on the evidence collected. 

All that being said, there are a few key indicators that will help you to quickly decide whether or not your article is based on original research. 

  • Literature Review or Background
  • Conclusions
  • Read through the abstract (summary) before you attempt to find the full-text PDF. The abstract of the article usually contains those subdivision headings where each of the key sections are summarized individually. 
  • Use the checkbox with CINAHL's advanced search to only see articles that have been tagged as research articles.   
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How to write an original article


  • 1 Servicio de Urología, Fundació Puigvert, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, España. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • 2 Servicio de Urología, Fundació Puigvert, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, España.
  • PMID: 29779648
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.acuro.2018.02.011

Context: A correctly drafted original article gives information on what was done, why it was done, how it was done, the result of what was done, and the significance of what was done. Many articles fail to report their results effectively.

Objective: To describe the characteristics of an original article and to give practical recommendations to prevent the most common errors in our environment.

Evidence acquisition: We performed a systematic search of the terms "how to write a scientific article", "structure of the original article" and "publishing an article" in the databases PubMed and SCOPUS. We analysed the structure of an original article and the characteristics of its parts and prepared advice on the publication of an article.

Evidence synthesis: The journal's guidelines for authors should be read. It is usual for the original article to follow the IMRAD structure: Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion. The introduction states briefly why the study was performed. The methods' section should give a detailed explanation of how the study was performed. The results should be clearly presented, with the help of tables, without repeating information. The discussion explains the relevance of the results and contrasts them with those of other authors. Any limitations and a conclusion supported by the results must be included.

Conclusions: Writing an original article correctly requires practice and it must be supported by a good research work in order to be published.

Keywords: Escribir un artículo; Estructura del artículo original; Publicar un artículo; Publishing an article; Structure of the original article; Writing an article.

Copyright © 2018 AEU. Publicado por Elsevier España, S.L.U. All rights reserved.

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Finding Research Articles About Your Topic

What kind of research has been done on your topic? Where can you find original research articles that have been published in peer-reviewed journals?  Use this page to learn about sources for finding peer-reviewed original research articles . Also, learn about  the nature and characteristics of peer-reviewed and original research articles.

Best bets for Original Research Articles-- Library databases for ENGL102


<p>Also explore the <a href="https://researchguides.njit.edu/az.php">Library&#39;s AZ Database list </a>to find scholarly resources dedicated to specific subjects (Psychology, Education, Transportation, etc.)</p>

Also explore the Library's A-Z Database list to find scholarly resources dedicated to specific subjects (Psychology, Education, Transportation, etc.)

Understanding Peer Review and Original Research

Understanding what peer review is all about.

What is a peer-reviewed article anyways? What is the big deal about peer review? What is it? How does it work? Why do my instructors ask me to find peer-reviewed articles to use in my paper? If an article has been "Peer reviewed" it has earned a kind of authority and credibility from an academic/scientific community. It's a process that research has to go through before it is published. When we're talking about peer review, we're usually talking about scholarly and academic publications. They are usually original research -- research that's never been done before.  

Consult these sources to learn more about it:

Learn about peer review -- and its imperfections -- by watching All About Peer Review , a video from the CSUDH Library. Consult the Research Guide on Peer Review from NJIT Library to learn more. Watch Peer Review in 5 minutes from NCSU Library to learn more about the process of peer review and how to identify peer reviewed research. Read the information sheet What's the Difference? from Purdue University. Look over the peer-review process infographic on the LibGuide from UC San Diego. Want to learn more? Read Peer Review in Scientific Publications: Benefits, Critiques & A Survival Guide for an extensive and in-depth treatment of peer review including its history and problems.

What do peer-reviewed articles look like?

What do peer reviewed articles look like.

Probably the most known peer-reviewed journal is Nature . Take a look at the current issue of Nature -- notice that it has all kinds of articles of interest to a lot of people -- news, editorials, book reviews. Take a look at the "Research Articles" section. There you will see the peer reviewed articles from Nature such as: Physiological measurements in social acceptance of self driving technologies Modeling innovation in the cryptocurrency ecosystem Human preferences toward algorithmic bias in a word association task Notice that the articles have a "received" or "submitted", "accepted by" and "published" dates. These are the marking of peer reviewed articles -- finding these dates can be a quick and easy way of identifying peer-reviewed research. These articles also describe an original scientific study or experiment. They follow the scientific method and have sections with names like "Introduction", "Methodology", "Results", etc. Peer-reviewed articles often, but don't always, have multiple authors whose affiliations are given in the article.
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Biology 303L: Ecology and Evolution

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Original Research Articles

Definition : An original research article communicates the research question, methods, results, and conclusions of a research study or experiment conducted by the author(s). These articles present original research data or findings generated through the course of the authors' study and an analysis of that data or information.

Published in Journals : Origingal research articles are published in scientific journals, also called scholarly or academic journals. These can be published in print and/or online. Journals are serial publications, meaning they publish volumes and issues on a schedule continually over time, similar to a magazine but for a scholarly audience. You can access journals through many of the library's databases. A list of recommended databases to use to search for original articles on biology subjects can be found through this link , accessible from the database "subject" dropdown on the library homepage.

Peer Reviewed : Prior to being published, original research articles undergo a process called peer review in an effort to ensure that published articles are based on sound research that adheres to established standards in the discipline. This means that after an article is first submitted to a journal, it is reviewed by other scientists who are experts in the article's subject area. These individuals review the article and provide unbiased feedback about the soundness of the background information, research methods, analysis, conclusions, logic, and reasoning of any conclusions; the author needs to incorporate and/or respond to recommended edits before an article will be published. Though it isn't perfect, peer review is the best quality control mechanism that scholars currently have in place to validate the quality of published research.

Peer reviewed articles will often be published with "Received", "Accepted", and "Published" dates, which indicates the timeline of the peer review process.

Structure : Traditionally, an original research article follows a standardized structure known by the acronym IMRD, which stands for Introduction, Methods, Results, & Discussion. Further information about the IMRD structure is available on the  Reading Original Research Articles  tab of this guide.

Other types of journal articles

Review Articles (usually peer reviewed) : Summarize and synthesize the current published literature on a certain topic. They do not involve original experiments or report new findings. The scope of a review article may be broad or narrow, depending on the publication record. Original research articles do incorporate literature review components, but a review article covers  only  review content.

Non Peer Reviewed Articles in Journals : Many journals publish the types of articles where peer review is not required. These differ by publication but may include research notes (brief reports of new research findings); responses to other articles; letters, commentaries, or opinion pieces; book reviews; and news. These articles are often more concise and will typically have a shorter reference list or no reference list at all. Many journals will indicate what genre these articles fall into on the article itself by using a label.

Why is Published Original Research Important?

Current information : Typical publication turnaround varies, but can be as quick as ~3 months.

Replicable : The studies published in original research articles contain enough methodological detail to be replicated so research can be verified (though this is a topic of recent debate ).

Contains Raw Data : The raw original research data, along with information about experimental conditions, allows for reuse of results for your own research or analysis.

Shows Logic : Using the provided data and methods, you can evaluate the logic of the authors' conclusions.

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Finding original (or "scientific") research articles: Where do I find these articles?

  • Definition and description
  • Where do I find these articles?
  • How do I understand them?
  • What's the point?

Quick answer...

Library research databases! 

In databases, you can narrow down your options to research articles (also sometimes listed as "scholarly" and/or "peer reviewed" in databases) -- or choose a database that ONLY includes research articles. In the box below are a few good starting options, but you can also see all of the TCC library research databases via the link below.

  • Complete List of TCC Library Research Databases Click here to view all of the research databases available at your TCC Library

Popular research databases

  • EBSCOhost databases
  • ScienceDirect

The Academic Search Complete, CINAHL, and PsycARTICLES databases (all published by EbscoHost) include many original research articles. (The direct links to these databases are at the bottom of this box.)

Search tips:

Type your topic into the first one or two search boxes and then use another box to type:  "methods OR results OR study" as shown here in the second box.  Use the drop down menu to choose the ABSTRACT search field for all boxes. Click search.

Limit to academic journals:

Limit the results list by checking the "Academic Journals" limiter on the left side of the results page

You will still need to examine the individual articles looking for the characteristics listed under the "Definition and description" tab on this guide to be sure of finding the right kind of article.

Explore these databases:

Academic Search Complete (EBSCOhost) logo

The ProQuest databases also include scientific research articles. There is a larger number and mix of article types in ProQuest, so you may need to look through a larger number of articles to find what you need.

Click on ADVANCED SEARCH, then enter your search terms in one or two search boxes and results OR  methods in the second or third box.  As in EbscoHost, change the search field to "Abstract".

Limit your results to scholarly journals: 

Quite a bit further down the screen, limit the search as shown below:

As you look through your results, you will need to examine the characteristics of the individual articles to make certain they are what you need.

Explore the ProQuest database:

ProQuest logo

ScienceDirect is a database that only includes scholarly, scientific articles!

Advanced Search tips:

If you go to the "Advanced Search" option, you can see there is an option below the search boxes to narrow down to "research articles"

screenshot of ScienceDirect advanced search

Explore ScienceDirect:

ScienceDirect logo

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  • Introduction
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Graphs show number of views for all articles (A) and research articles only (B) and number of articles published for all articles (C) and research articles only (D) in the 3 journals over the same period in 2019 and 2020.

Box plots show medians (lines within boxes) and interquartile ranges (bottoms and tops of boxes) of articles published in the 3 journals. Scale is limited to 500 000 to better show boxes. Circles denote outliers. Whiskers denote values within 1.5 times the interquartile range from the upper or lower quartile.

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Giustini AJ , Schroeder AR , Axelrod DM. Trends in Views of Articles Published in 3 Leading Medical Journals During the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(4):e216459. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.6459

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Trends in Views of Articles Published in 3 Leading Medical Journals During the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • 1 Department of Anesthesiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
  • 2 Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the peer review, publication, and readership of scientific articles. 1 - 3 The scientific community has voiced concern that the focus on COVID-19 adversely affects dissemination of research into other diseases. 4 , 5 Recently, the number of article views has been recognized as a metric for article impact. 6 In this study, we sought to assess the trends in views of articles published in 3 leading medical journals during the pandemic.

Because no patients were involved in this study (only analysis of journal article reads), we did not obtain institutional review board approval or informed consent. To assess changes in views of medical scientific articles, in this cross-sectional study we examined full and PDF views of articles published by 3 widely read, English-language, general medical journals— JAMA , The New England Journal of Medicine ( NEJM ), and BMJ —from January to July of 2019 and 2020. All articles other than journal mastheads were included in data collection. Article types included research articles, educational articles, opinion, reviews, letters, erratum, and scientific news.

Views data were acquired by inspecting the metrics information for each article provided by the journal websites with the Scrapy web scraping and website parsing package version 2.3.0 (Scrapy) for Python statistical software version 3.8.3 (Python Software Foundation) with the Spyder open-source interface version 4.1.4. We first determined whether articles were COVID-19 focused and original research (yes or no). COVID-19–focused articles were defined as those that referenced COVID-19 (or a synonymous term) in the title, or whose content was judged by the primary author (A.J.G.) to be primarily pandemic related. Unclear article categorization was decided in consensus by all 3 authors. Articles were categorized as original research if they were original research articles, including meta-analyses.

We compared the views of non–COVID-19 original research articles from March 2020 (when COVID-19 attention began to mount) to July 2020 with the same period in 2019. Because of journal variation in metric reporting methods, we standardized view accrual time by summing views through the end of the month following the date of issue. Differences in median views of the 457 relevant articles were assessed with the Wilcoxon rank-sum test using R statistical software version 4.0.2 with the RStudio version 1.3.1073 interface (both from R Project for Statistical Computing). We then performed subgroup analyses on the 3 journals with a Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons, with significance set at 2-tailed P  = .017. Data analysis was performed from October to December 2020.

In total, the number of views for 7528 articles were collected: 4059 articles from BMJ , 2079 from JAMA , and 1390 from NEJM . In March to July of 2020, the median (interquartile range) number of views of COVID-19 original research articles was 117 341.5 (51 114-294 8595.5) views, and the median (interquartile range) number of views of non–COVID-19 original research articles was 10 171 (5848-20 406) views. In March to July 2019, there were 258 non–COVID-19 research articles published (68 in BMJ , 97 in JAMA , and 93 in NEJM ), compared with 199 non–COVID-19 original research articles published in March to July 2020 (49 in BMJ , 70 in JAMA , and 80 in NEJM ), a decrease of 23%. Overall readership of articles between March to July 2019 and March to July 2020 increased by 557%, whereas the total number of articles published per month remained constant ( Figure 1 ). Although the total number of non–COVID-19 original research articles decreased from 2019 to 2020 ( Figure 1 B and 1 D), the median number of views of each article was not substantially different between March to July of 2019 and March to July 2020 ( Figure 2 ).

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased overall article views for major medical journals in 2020, with unprecedented views per article for COVID-19–related publications. Although the total number of published original non–COVID-19 research articles decreased during the pandemic in these 3 journals, the number of views per article has remained constant, implying that individual non–COVID-19 original research articles are receiving similar attention as before the pandemic. The pandemic may detrimentally affect the broader evidence base because fewer non–COVID-19 research articles have been published in the 3 journals studied. This work begins to address the question of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected attention to other diseases in the medical literature. These findings may be limited by different approaches to page view reporting and variable numbers of articles published between the studied journals.

Accepted for Publication: February 26, 2021.

Published: April 1, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.6459

Open Access: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License . © 2021 Giustini AJ et al. JAMA Network Open .

Corresponding Author: Andrew J. Giustini, MD, PhD, Department of Anesthesiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Dr, Rm H3580, MC 5640, Stanford, CA 94305 ( [email protected] ).

Author Contributions: Dr Giustini had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: All authors.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: Giustini, Axelrod.

Drafting of the manuscript: Giustini, Axelrod.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.

Statistical analysis: Giustini.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Axelrod.

Supervision: Axelrod.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

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  • 01 May 2024

Plagiarism in peer-review reports could be the ‘tip of the iceberg’

  • Jackson Ryan 0

Jackson Ryan is a freelance science journalist in Sydney, Australia.

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Time pressures and a lack of confidence could be prompting reviewers to plagiarize text in their reports. Credit: Thomas Reimer/Zoonar via Alamy

Mikołaj Piniewski is a researcher to whom PhD students and collaborators turn when they need to revise or refine a manuscript. The hydrologist, at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, has a keen eye for problems in text — a skill that came in handy last year when he encountered some suspicious writing in peer-review reports of his own paper.

Last May, when Piniewski was reading the peer-review feedback that he and his co-authors had received for a manuscript they’d submitted to an environmental-science journal, alarm bells started ringing in his head. Comments by two of the three reviewers were vague and lacked substance, so Piniewski decided to run a Google search, looking at specific phrases and quotes the reviewers had used.

To his surprise, he found the comments were identical to those that were already available on the Internet, in multiple open-access review reports from publishers such as MDPI and PLOS. “I was speechless,” says Piniewski. The revelation caused him to go back to another manuscript that he had submitted a few months earlier, and dig out the peer-review reports he received for that. He found more plagiarized text. After e-mailing several collaborators, he assembled a team to dig deeper.

original research journal articles

Meet this super-spotter of duplicated images in science papers

The team published the results of its investigation in Scientometrics in February 1 , examining dozens of cases of apparent plagiarism in peer-review reports, identifying the use of identical phrases across reports prepared for 19 journals. The team discovered exact quotes duplicated across 50 publications, saying that the findings are just “the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to misconduct in the peer-review system.

Dorothy Bishop, a former neuroscientist at the University of Oxford, UK, who has turned her attention to investigating research misconduct, was “favourably impressed” by the team’s analysis. “I felt the way they approached it was quite useful and might be a guide for other people trying to pin this stuff down,” she says.

Peer review under review

Piniewski and his colleagues conducted three analyses. First, they uploaded five peer-review reports from the two manuscripts that his laboratory had submitted to a rudimentary online plagiarism-detection tool . The reports had 44–100% similarity to previously published online content. Links were provided to the sources in which duplications were found.

The researchers drilled down further. They broke one of the suspicious peer-review reports down to fragments of one to three sentences each and searched for them on Google. In seconds, the search engine returned a number of hits: the exact phrases appeared in 22 open peer-review reports, published between 2021 and 2023.

The final analysis provided the most worrying results. They took a single quote — 43 words long and featuring multiple language errors, including incorrect capitalization — and pasted it into Google. The search revealed that the quote, or variants of it, had been used in 50 peer-review reports.

Predominantly, these reports were from journals published by MDPI, PLOS and Elsevier, and the team found that the amount of duplication increased year-on-year between 2021 and 2023. Whether this is because of an increase in the number of open-access peer-review reports during this time or an indication of a growing problem is unclear — but Piniewski thinks that it could be a little bit of both.

Why would a peer reviewer use plagiarized text in their report? The team says that some might be attempting to save time , whereas others could be motivated by a lack of confidence in their writing ability, for example, if they aren’t fluent in English.

The team notes that there are instances that might not represent misconduct. “A tolerable rephrasing of your own words from a different review? I think that’s fine,” says Piniewski. “But I imagine that most of these cases we found are actually something else.”

The source of the problem

Duplication and manipulation of peer-review reports is not a new phenomenon. “I think it’s now increasingly recognized that the manipulation of the peer-review process, which was recognized around 2010, was probably an indication of paper mills operating at that point,” says Jennifer Byrne, director of biobanking at New South Wales Health in Sydney, Australia, who also studies research integrity in scientific literature.

Paper mills — organizations that churn out fake research papers and sell authorships to turn a profit — have been known to tamper with reviews to push manuscripts through to publication, says Byrne.

original research journal articles

The fight against fake-paper factories that churn out sham science

However, when Bishop looked at Piniewski’s case, she could not find any overt evidence of paper-mill activity. Rather, she suspects that journal editors might be involved in cases of peer-review-report duplication and suggests studying the track records of those who’ve allowed inadequate or plagiarized reports to proliferate.

Piniewski’s team is also concerned about the rise of duplications as generative artificial intelligence (AI) becomes easier to access . Although his team didn’t look for signs of AI use, its ability to quickly ingest and rephrase large swathes of text is seen as an emerging issue.

A preprint posted in March 2 showed evidence of researchers using AI chatbots to assist with peer review, identifying specific adjectives that could be hallmarks of AI-written text in peer-review reports .

Bishop isn’t as concerned as Piniewski about AI-generated reports, saying that it’s easy to distinguish between AI-generated text and legitimate reviewer commentary. “The beautiful thing about peer review,” she says, is that it is “one thing you couldn’t do a credible job with AI”.

Preventing plagiarism

Publishers seem to be taking action. Bethany Baker, a media-relations manager at PLOS, who is based in Cambridge, UK, told Nature Index that the PLOS Publication Ethics team “is investigating the concerns raised in the Scientometrics article about potential plagiarism in peer reviews”.

original research journal articles

How big is science’s fake-paper problem?

An Elsevier representative told Nature Index that the publisher “can confirm that this matter has been brought to our attention and we are conducting an investigation”.

In a statement, the MDPI Research Integrity and Publication Ethics Team said that it has been made aware of potential misconduct by reviewers in its journals and is “actively addressing and investigating this issue”. It did not confirm whether this was related to the Scientometrics article.

One proposed solution to the problem is ensuring that all submitted reviews are checked using plagiarism-detection software. In 2022, exploratory work by Adam Day, a data scientist at Sage Publications, based in Thousand Oaks, California, identified duplicated text in peer-review reports that might be suggestive of paper-mill activity. Day offered a similar solution of using anti-plagiarism software , such as Turnitin.

Piniewski expects the problem to get worse in the coming years, but he hasn’t received any unusual peer-review reports since those that originally sparked his research. Still, he says that he’s now even more vigilant. “If something unusual occurs, I will spot it.”

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-024-01312-0

Piniewski, M., Jarić, I., Koutsoyiannis, D. & Kundzewicz, Z. W. Scientometrics https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-024-04960-1 (2024).

Article   Google Scholar  

Liang, W. et al. Preprint at arXiv https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2403.07183 (2024).

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Visual search strategies and game knowledge in junior australian rules football players: testing potential in talent identification and development article type: original research.

Kylie A. Steel

  • 1 Biomedical and Health Science, Western Sydney University, Penrith, NSW, Australia
  • 2 The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, Western Sydney University, Penrith, New South Wales, Australia
  • 3 Western Sydney University, Penrith, New South Wales, Australia
  • 4 University of Bath, Bath, England, United Kingdom
  • 5 Quinn Elite Sports, Sydney, Australia
  • 6 La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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This study explored video-based decision-making and eye-movement behaviour as a complementary method to assess the decision-making skills and knowledge of elite junior Australian Rules (AR) Football players. Performance was measured twice over an 18-month period. This approach tested a practical and reliable assessment of decision-making and game knowledge that does not contribute to physical training load. N=59 participants were categorised based on their training age groups, U14 (N=38, Mage13.37±0.47) and U16 (N=21, Mage14.80±0.39). Participants watched 14 brief video clips and provided action choices while wearing eye-movement recording glasses that captured visual search patterns (e.g., fixations).Decision accuracy and speed of decision-making were also recorded. Participants with accurate decisions made significantly faster decisions compared to less skilled players (p <0.001).Further, skilled participants had significantly fewer fixations of shorter duration compared to less skilled participants at both the initial and follow-up testing sessions p <0.0001). This suggests that eye-movement characteristics, remain a relatively stable measure over moderate periods of time. With the ability to differentiate between more and less skilled decision-makers, this proof-of-concept study proposes that examining eye movements in relation to decisionmaking and game knowledge is a viable tool for Talent Identification and Development (TID) to complement current measures. We provide a platform for further development and research in the quest for efficient and effective talent identification processes.

Keywords: talent identification and development, Australian Rules football, eye-movement behaviour, decision-making, sport expertise

Received: 15 Dec 2023; Accepted: 07 May 2024.

Copyright: © 2024 Steel, Kassem, Dogramaci, Pang, Quinn and MacMahon. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Kylie A. Steel, Biomedical and Health Science, Western Sydney University, Penrith, 1797, NSW, Australia

Disclaimer: All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.


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