Different types of research articles

A guide for early career researchers

In scholarly literature, there are many different kinds of articles published every year. Original research articles are often the first thing you think of when you hear the words ‘journal article’. In reality, research work often results in a whole mixture of different outputs and it’s not just the final research article that can be published.

Finding a home to publish supporting work in different formats can help you start publishing sooner, allowing you to build your publication record and research profile.

But before you do, it’s very important that you check the instructions for authors and the aims and scope of the journal(s) you’d like to submit to. These will tell you whether they accept the type of article you’re thinking of writing and what requirements they have around it.

Understanding the different kind of articles

There’s a huge variety of different types of articles – some unique to individual journals – so it’s important to explore your options carefully. While it would be impossible to cover every single article type here, below you’ll find a guide to the most common research articles and outputs you could consider submitting for publication.

Book review

Many academic journals publish book reviews, which aim to provide insight and opinion on recently published scholarly books. Writing book reviews is often a good way to begin academic writing. It can help you get your name known in your field and give you valuable experience of publishing before you write a full-length article.

If you’re keen to write a book review, a good place to start is looking for journals that publish or advertise the books they have available for review. Then it’s just a matter of putting yourself forward for one of them.

You can check whether a journal publishes book reviews by browsing previous issues or by seeing if a book review editor is listed on the editorial board. In addition, some journals publish other types of reviews, such as film, product, or exhibition reviews, so it’s worth bearing those in mind as options as well.

Get familiar with instructions for authors

Be prepared, speed up your submission, and make sure nothing is forgotten by understanding a journal’s individual requirements.

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Case report

A medical case report – also sometimes called a clinical case study – is an original short report that provides details of a single patient case.

Case reports include detailed information on the symptoms, signs, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of an individual patient. They remain one of the cornerstones of medical progress and provide many new ideas in medicine.

Depending on the journal, a case report doesn’t necessarily need to describe an especially novel or unusual case as there is benefit from collecting details of many standard cases.

Take a look at F1000Research’s guidance on case reports, to understand more about what’s required in them. And don’t forget that for all studies involving human participants, informed written consent to take part in the research must be obtained from the participants – find out more about consent to publish.

Clinical study

In medicine, a clinical study report is a type of article that provides in-depth detail on the methods and results of a clinical trial. They’re typically similar in length and format to original research articles.

Most journals now require that you register protocols for clinical trials you’re involved with in a publicly accessible registry. A list of eligible registries can be found on the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP). Trials can also be registered at clinicaltrials.gov or the EU Clinical Trials Register. Once registered, your trial will be assigned a clinical trial number (CTN).

Before you submit a clinical study, you’ll need to include clinical trial numbers and registration dates in the manuscript, usually in the abstract and methods sections.

Commentaries and letters to editors

Letters to editors, as well as ‘replies’ and ‘discussions’, are usually brief comments on topical issues of public and political interest (related to the research field of the journal), anecdotal material, or readers’ reactions to material published in the journal.

Commentaries are similar, though they may be slightly more in-depth, responding to articles recently published in the journal. There may be a ‘target article’ which various commentators are invited to respond to.

You’ll need to look through previous issues of any journal you’re interested in writing for and review the instructions for authors to see which types of these articles (if any) they accept.

Conference materials

Many of our medical journals accept conference material supplements. These are open access peer-reviewed, permanent, and citable publications within the journal. Conference material supplements record research around a common thread, as presented at a workshop, congress, or conference, for the scientific record. They can include the following types of articles:

  • Poster extracts

  • Conference abstracts

  • Presentation extracts

Find out more about submitting conference materials.

Data notes

Data notes are a short peer-reviewed article type that concisely describe research data stored in a repository. Publishing a data note can help you to maximize the impact of your data and gain appropriate credit for your research.

Data notes promote the potential reuse of research data and include details of why and how the data were created. They do not include any analysis but they can be linked to a research article incorporating analysis of the published dataset, as well as the results and conclusions.

F1000Research enables you to publish your data note rapidly and openly via an author-centric platform. There is also a growing range of options for publishing data notes in Taylor & Francis journals, including in All Life and Big Earth Data.

Read our guide to data notes to find out more.

Letters or short reports

Letters or short reports (sometimes known as brief communications or rapid communications) are brief reports of data from original research.

Editors publish these reports where they believe the data will be interesting to many researchers and could stimulate further research in the field. There are even entire journals dedicated to publishing letters.

As they’re relatively short, the format is useful for researchers 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 article.

Brief reports (previously called Research Notes) are a type of short report published by F1000Research – part of the Taylor & Francis Group. To find out more about the requirements for a brief report, take a look at F1000Research’s guidance.

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Method article

A method article is a medium length peer-reviewed, research-focused article type that aims to answer a specific question. It also describes an advancement or development of current methodological approaches and research procedures (akin to a research article), following the standard layout for research articles. This includes new study methods, substantive modifications to existing methods, or innovative applications of existing methods to new models or scientific questions. These should include adequate and appropriate validation to be considered, and any datasets associated with the paper must publish all experimental controls and make full datasets available.  

Posters and slides

With F1000Research, you can publish scholarly posters and slides covering basic scientific, translational, and clinical research within the life sciences and medicine. You can find out more about how to publish posters and slides on the F1000Research website.

Registered report

Registered Report consists of two different kinds of articles: a study protocol and an original research article.

This is because the review process for Registered Reports is divided into two stages. In Stage 1, reviewers assess study protocols before data is collected. In Stage 2, reviewers consider the full published study as an original research article, including results and interpretation.

Taking this approach, you can get an in-principle acceptance of your research article before you start collecting data. We’ve got further guidance on Registered Reports here, and you can also read F1000Research’s guidance on preparing a Registered Report.

Research article

Original research articles are the most common type of journal article. They’re detailed studies reporting new work and are classified as primary literature.

You may find them referred to as original articles, research articles, research, or even just articles, depending on the journal.

Typically, especially in STEM subjects, these articles will include Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion sections. However, you should always check the instructions for authors of your chosen journal to see whether it specifies how your article should be structured. If you’re planning to write an original research article, take a look at our guidance on writing a journal article.

Review article

Review articles provide critical and constructive analysis of existing published literature in a field. They’re usually structured to provide a summary of existing literature, analysis, and comparison. Often, they identify specific gaps or problems and provide recommendations for future research.

Unlike original research articles, review articles are considered as secondary literature. This means that they generally don’t present new data from the author’s experimental work, but instead provide analysis or interpretation of a body of primary research on a specific topic. Secondary literature is an important part of the academic ecosystem because it can help explain new or different positions and ideas about primary research, identify gaps in research around a topic, or spot important trends that one individual research article may not.

There are 3 main types of review article

  • Literature review

Presents the current knowledge including substantive findings as well as theoretical and methodological contributions to a particular topic.

  • Systematic review

Identifies, appraises and synthesizes all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a specific research question. Researchers conducting systematic reviews use explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view aimed at minimizing bias, to produce more reliable findings to inform decision making.

  • Meta-analysis

A quantitative, formal, epidemiological study design used to systematically assess the results of previous research to derive conclusions about that body of research. Typically, but not necessarily, a meta-analysis study is based on randomized, controlled clinical trials.

Take a look at our guide to writing a review article for more guidance on what’s required.

Software tool articles

software tool article – published by F1000Research – describes the rationale for the development of a new software tool and details of the code used for its construction.

The article should provide examples of suitable input data sets and include an example of the output that can be expected from the tool and how this output should be interpreted. Software tool articles submitted to F1000Research should be written in open access programming languages. Take a look at their guidance for more details on what’s required of a software tool article.

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Further resources

Ready to write your article, but not sure where to start?

For more guidance on how to prepare and write an article for a journal you can download the Writing your paper eBook.