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Psychology: Find Scholarly Articles

Find Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed Articles

Scholary Sources VS Popular Sources

Scholarly Sources

Picture of the cover of the American Journal of Psychology, which is blue with some yellow lines.

Popular Sources

Picture of the cover of Psychology Today which is a sheep in glasses.

  • Author: Written by experts (scientists, professors, scholars) in a particular field.
  • Audience: Written for other experts in a particular field.
  • Language: Very technical and scholarly. Not easily understood.
  • Purpose: Published by non-profit or education organizations to communicate new ideas.
  • Characteristics: Tend to be longer and are on very specific topics.
  • Citations: Provide complete and formal citations for sources.
  • Review Process: Often reviewed by a panel of scholars in the field being studied. (Peer-Reviewed)
  • Author: Written by professional writers, journalists, or members of the general public.
  • Audience: Written for the general public.
  • Language: Basic and clear. Easily understood.
  • Purpose: Often published by for-profit companies for revenue and profit.
  • Characteristics: Tend to be short and on topics of general interest.
  • Citations: Provide informal or no citations for sources.
  • Review Process: Reviewed by an editor or self-published with no formal review process.

REMEMBER: Popular DOES NOT equal bad. Check with your professors to find out which popular sources they accept.

Online Scholarly Journal Databases

WARNING: Many web-based search engines do not provide full-text articles without payment. NEVER PAY for an article. Instead submit an Interlibrary Loan request; it’s likely that we can get it for you for free.

How to Identify Research Studies

Scholarly Psychology Journals usually have two types of articles:

  • Reviews look at other peoples' research and summarize research in a specific area of study.
  • Research studies report the original research being conducted by the authors of the article.

‚ÄčQuick Indicators of Original Research Studies

Read the abstract of an article before diving into it completely and then give the article a quick once over. You are looking for keywords such as:

  • Purpose or Objective: Why the experiment is being done in the first place, the question that the researchers are attempting to address with their research.
  • Participants, Population, or subjects: In psychology, research is done on people or animals – a research article should discuss who participated in a study. If it DOES NOT talk about the people used in the research, it may be an analysis or review of research. It is likely NOT a research study.
  • Methods or Methodology: This explains how the research is done.
  • Results or Findings: An explanation of what the researchers found within the scope of their experiment or research.
  • Conclusions and/or Discussion: A description of what the researchers’ findings entail or mean, and suggestions for future research informed by such findings.

Adapted from “What is Original Research?” http://libguides.unf.edu/originalresearch

Library Database Search Tips

How many keywords should you use when searching a database? Find out below:

Video created by the Kimbel Library at Coastal Carolina University. 

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