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Writing 101 (Silbaugh)

Writing Discipline: Psychology

Original Research & Lit Reviews

Scholarly journals contain more than one type of article. In one issue of a journal, such as this issue of Nature, you may find original research articles, review articles, letters to the editor, book reviews, and more. When browsing articles in databases or in paper journals, keep the following questions in mind:

  • What is this piece's purpose?
  • Is this an original research article?
  • Does this article summarize the original research of others?
  • Why is this material included in the journal?

scholarly articles

Empirical articles are based on an experiment or study. They are an example of original research. Often in psychology, you will be asked to locate empirical articles. The authors will report the purpose of the study, the research methodology, and results. This is a familiar structure for empirical articles (IMRAD):

  • introduction
  • methods
  • results
  • discussion

In describing the purpose of their study, authors will present a mini literature review to discuss how previous research has led up to their original research project.

Review Article Examples

Review articles summarize or synthesize content from earlier published research and are useful for surveying the literature on a specific research area. Review articles are not just summaries but critical summaries. Review articles can lead you to original research articles.

Example: Sundstrom, E., Bell, P. A., Busby, P. L., & Asmus, C. (1996). Environmental Psychology 1989–1994. Annual Review of Psychology, 47(1), 485-512.

Example: Landay, K., & Harms, P. D. (2019). Whistle while you work? A review of the effects of music in the workplace. Human Resource Management Review, 29(3), 371-385.

Original Research Article Examples

Original research articles (empirical articles) are based on an experiment or study.  The authors will report the purpose of the study, the research methodology, and results. This is a familiar structure for original research articles > IMRAD: introduction, methods, results, and discussion.

Example: Gonzales, N. A., Knight, G. P., Gunn, H. J., Tein, J., Tanaka, R., & White, R. M. B. (2018). Intergenerational gaps in Mexican American values trajectories: Associations with parent–adolescent conflict and adolescent psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 30(5), 1611-1627.

Example: Andjelkovic, I., Parra, D., & O'Donovan, J. (2019). Moodplay: Interactive music recommendation based on artists’ mood similarity. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 121, 142-159.

Limiting to Empirical Articles

In PsycINFO, use the Methodology limiter to narrow to empirical study (original research).

See explanations of each Methodology available in PsycINFO.

Video: Types of Scholarly Articles

VCU Libraries (3:25)

Peer Review in 3 Minutes

North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries, 3:15

  1. What do peer reviewers do?  How are they similar to or different from editors?
  2. Who are the primary customers of scholarly journals?
  3. Do databases only include peer-reviewed articles?  How do you know?