AWAL: Article


As a genre, an article refers to a paper published in a journal or other periodical (e.g., newspaper, newsletter, magazine), whether in print or through a publisher’s website or another digital genre (or both, as is currently common). As a grammatical element, the term “article” refers to various linguistic particles (“a,” “an,” “the”) that precede certain classes of nouns (Caplan, 2019). Here we discuss article as a writing genre.

What is included in a journal article depends on its audience, as well as its type. Different types of articles have different formats (length, subsections, etc.) (Hartley, 2008). For example, research articles contribute new knowledge based on the results of research after analyzing data or modeling. They typically include abstracts and keywords to help readers find the article in a search and get a quick sense of the article’s focus (Belcher, 2019). Practitioner-oriented articles tend to share information drawn on research that is reframed for application in real-life contexts Practitioner articles may use a less formal style and voice than do research articles, depending on the publication. They may also include visual features that draw the reader’s interest, such as sidebars and graphics (see data commentary).

Other types of journal articles include essays and conceptual articles that may not draw on empirical data (e.g., in arts, literature, and philosophy). Review articles are a type of complex literature review that synthesizes an overview of a topic within a discipline. Other kinds of articles published in academic journals include book reviews, letters, and short communications that report preliminary research results in order to establish claims to new knowledge.

The format and components of a particular type of article are often constrained by the guidelines of the publication or digital platform. However, some flexibility likely exists in terms of length and additional features such as graphics.

Variations and Tensions

Different types of journal articles are common in different academic disciplines. For example, letters and short communications are often included in science journals such as Brain and Language and Solid State Communications.

Newsletters are print or electronic serial publications that deliver news or advocacy messages from an organization or business to its employees, members, customers, or other audiences. For example, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration publishes a newsletter, NASA Express, that shares information on workshops, grants, and professional development opportunities.

Some academic writers also write blogs or website articles to share their ideas and experiences and disseminate their research (e.g., Guerin, 2019). Compared with print venues, digital genres can reach a wider audience and enable interaction with readers. However, they do not tend to be peer reviewed.

Graduate Student Voice

I read empirical journal research articles more than other types because they provide current information on topics in education and applied linguistics. However, I sometimes consult practitioner-oriented journal articles for information about teaching. – Yanhong Zuo

Reflection Questions

  1. Looking at different kinds of journals in your discipline, what categories of articles are commonly published?
  2. Have you been involved in writing different types of articles? Which kinds of articles might you be interested in producing, and for which audiences?

For Further Reading

Belcher, W. L. (2019). Writing your journal article in twelve weeks: A guide to academic publishing success (2nd ed.). University of Chicago Press. The Introduction (pp. 1-13) explains what an article is and the processes of producing journal articles.

Hartley, J. (2008). Academic writing and publishing: A practical handbook. Routledge. The section, “The academic article” (pp. 23-72), introduces the components of an academic article such as title, abstract, and key words.


Belcher, W. L. (Ed.). (2019). Writing your journal article in twelve weeks: A guide to academic publishing success (2nd ed.). University of Chicago Press.

Caplan, N. A. (2019). Grammar choices for graduate and professional writers. University of Michigan Press.

Guerin, C. (2019). Matching introductions and conclusions. Retrieved from

Hartley, J. (2008). Academic writing and publishing: A practical handbook. Routledge.

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