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Criminology Master Thesis

Scholarly texts

A scholarly text is written by a researcher to present the results of their research or to summarise the research of others. There are different types of scholarly texts within your subject: books, book chapters, articles and dissertations.

Scholarly articles

Scholarly articles will probably be the most common type of scholarly text that you will read in connection to your thesis. A scholarly article is published in a scholarly journal. This means, among other things, that the articles are reviewed by other researchers. Such a review process is usually called peer review or refereeing and often we refer to them as peer review articles.

What is a peer review article?

  • Presents research
  • The structure of the text often follow the IMRAD structure (see below)
  • Written by researchers
  • Peer reviewed by other researchers within the field (see below for more information on peer review)
  • Published by an academic publisher or a university


Peer review articles are often written in an IMRAD format, which means the following:

  • I - Introduction
  • M - Methods
  • R - Results
  • And
  • D - Discussion

Peer review articles often have an abstract as well, which summarizes the content of the article. Usually, there is also a reference list at the end of the article. Example from Psychology, Crime & Law, Vol. 15, No. 8, October 2009, 743758

 Below you can learn more about the peer review process. (Film by NC State University)

Limit to peer review articles in databases

Some databases have the option to limit the search to peer review journals. Look for a box sayintg "Peer review" and tick it after you've run your search.

Note that you can't use the peer review limiter in Pubmed. Instead use Ulrichsweb, where you search for the journal and check under "Refereed", if it says "Yes" it is a peer review journal. You can also google the name of the journal and check their website to see if there's any information on peer review.


Evaluating sources

To help you decide if a source is appropriate four your essay you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is the author? Is the author affiliated with a university or other research institution?
  • Does the text cite other scholarly materials?
  • Is the content relevant to your research question? Can you use the text to support your own claims? 
  • Has the text been refereed/peer reviewed? Remember, usually only articles published in scholarly journals have been peer reviewed. In literary research it is common to publish your findings in other formats, such as dissertations, books or book chapters. Just because a source is not peer review it does not mean that it is not scholarly.

More on evaluating sources, peer review and how to read a scholarly article

Film by UTC Library