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CCC Psychology Guide

A handy collection of resources, links, and tips for students taking Psychology 101 and/or 250 (Social Psychology) at CCC.

Primary Research Articles

In science, the vast majority of new facts and discoveries are communicated in the form of an article published in a scholarly journal. The objective of these articles is to report on new discoveries in order to advance that field of research. Articles that report on new discoveries are called primary sources or primary research articles and they are typically organized using the following structure:

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References Cited

This structure is designed to be a practical and efficient means of delivering information. It also ensures that key points will be covered in the article, including:

  • a description of how the research was conducted (so that it can be repeated and verified by others)
  • the research findings of the study (usually presented in figures, chartes, data tables, etc.)
  • the significance of the findings to the advancement of that field

What is a secondary article?

In most science disciplines, secondary articles are basically any article that does not tell us about an research project or experiment. Secondary articles can be peer reviewed, such as the review articles described below, but they can also appear in popular publications like newspapers, magazines, blogs, etc. 

You can search for secondary sources in any of our EBSCO databases, or use the Find Articles search box on the homepage. You can also do Google searches to find articles in popular magazines. Or, better yet, do a focused Google search to find articles from one website. To search for neuroscience articles in the New York Times, for instance, you can type this into Google:

neuroscience site:nytimes.com

This will restrict your search to just the nytimes website, and it often works better than using a site's built-in search engine.

 

Review articles are special types of articles that provide a summary of the current state of research on a topic. Authors of review articles conduct extensive database searches to gather together all the research articles on a topic, then they synthesize them into an article that describes the major advances, discoveries, debates, and gaps in research for that topic. A good review article is the perfect place to start to familiarize yourself with an area of research.

Note how review articles are different from primary research articles. Primary research articles report on new findings while review articles summarize the current state of research on a topic.

Review articles are published in scholarly journals and must go through the peer-review process before being published, just like primary research articles.