Research articles are typically published in a journal and are highly likely to have been peer-reviewed. They are structured like lab reports, with sections for: the abstract or summary of the project, introduction and literature review, hypothesis or experimental question, method or process used, data gathered, the analysis or interpretation of the data, and conclusions. Their purpose is to serve as the primary (first) report of research, and they are used by practitioners as a theoretical base for their applications. Research articles contain highly technical language for an experienced or educated audience. Not every article in a peer-reviewed journal is guaranteed to be peer-reviewed. Many academic or research journals also have editorials, comments, conference summaries, and reviews.
Peer reviewed (or refereed) articles are usually (but not always) research articles. They are frequently, but not always, identified by string of acceptance dates. When you see that time passed between submission of the draft and final acceptance, you know that the author’s peers reviewed the article for sense and value of the contribution, and submitted suggestions to make the article stronger.
Review articles can identify trends, replication of results, and hypotheses that need further research and testing. They are intended for knowledgeable audiences, but they can be helpful to readers who are new to a topic because they summarize a lot of previous research and they may point out which of those articles are the most significant contributions to new knowledge in the field.
Technical reports are structured like case studies: or "how I solved this problem." They typically cite research articles as the basis for methods chosen. They serve as a project report to the funding source, which may be a federal, state, or local government agency. Tech reports are not always available; they may be kept proprietary, especially if client is a non-governmental corporation.
Conference papers are usually reports on "work in progress" and may be incomplete. In some cases the paper may be peer-reviewed, and sometimes only the abstract is peer-reviewed. Conference papers might be published in conference proceedings, or the authors may wait to publish the complete version of the article in a peer-reviewed journal.
Trade publications are frequently called magazines or journals. They serve to keep practitioners up to date about products, meetings, and research summaries.They are structured informally, and they contain lots of advertising and news. Articles are brief and usually do not have references at the end. Example: C&E News