Scholarly publications

Research results are made public in different types of scholarly or scientific publications. Which types of publications researchers use may vary from discipline to discipline. Here you can find out about the most common forms of scholarly publications.


A common form of scientific publication is an article published in an academic journal. This is also the type of publication that has the highest status in many disciplines. Articles are often published in journals with a specific research focus, and have usually undergone peer review, a process where the manuscript is scrutinized by other experts in the field before it is accepted and published. The author/authors are typically researchers at a university and the intended audience of the article is other experts within the field.

Academic journals can either be subscription based (and made available through a university library etc) or Open Access, meaning that they are freely available online.


A dissertation, or thesis, is the product of a PhD student’s research and is presented at a disputation (defence), where the opponent (a senior researcher with expertise in the relevant research field) critiques the work. The dissertation has also been reviewed by the PhD student’s supervisor and is graded by an examining committee.

There are two kinds of dissertations. A compilation thesis consists of separately published articles with an introduction and a summary. A monograph thesis consists of a longer, unified text.


Scholarly books are usually published by international research-oriented publishing houses. A monograph is a book written by a single author (or a small team of authors) on a specific topic. An anthology is compiled by an editor and consists of different contributions or chapters by separate authors. 

Conference papers

A researcher attending a conference often presents a paper, usually a shorter piece on a current research project. Sometimes these papers are peer reviewed and may be collected in a conference proceeding.

In some research fields, conference publications have high status, especially in quickly expanding research fields. In other fields, they are considered as a preliminary form of scientific article.

Working papers

A working paper, sometimes called a technical report, usually presents ongoing research and is often published by a research institute, a government agency or other organization. Working papers are usually not peer reviewed and are of varying scientific merit. In some cases, their target audience are other researchers, in other, the general public. Depending on context, they serve different functions and purposes. 

Grey literature

Publications that are difficult to categorize and/or are not regularly published, are sometimes called “grey” literature. Examples of grey literature are unpublished manuscripts, patents, standards, policies and guidelines. Sometimes these kinds of documents are of research interest and are referenced to in scholarly publications.

Scholarly publications overview
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Working paper
Conference article
Written by
PhD student
By other researchers through peer review
Often by an editor
By the supervisor, and later by the opponent and the examining committee
Sometimes by other researchers at seminars, but varying
Sometimes before the conference. Otherwise by other conference participants
Academic journal
Publishing house
Usually by a university or an academic publisher
Research institutes or university departments
Sometimes in conference proceedings, but in many cases not published
Target audience
Researchers in the same research field
Researchers in the same research field
Primarily the opponent and the examining committtee
Sometimes other researchers, sometimes a larger audience
Participants at the conference/ researchers in the same research field
Be aware of
Predatory journals pretending to be serious
Shouldn’t be confused with popular science books
Important to assess the level of scholarship
Not all conferences are scholarly/scientific