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Library Research Guides

PSYCH 303: Research Methods in Psychology

Tools and techniques for finding information for Psychology 303, taught in Winter 2018 by Prof. Colleen Seifert

What is Peer Reviewed?

The Library at NCSU has created a great video called "Peer Review in 3 Minutes."

Scholarly Article Types

Empirical Research Articles

  • Reports of original research studies
    • May use quantitative or qualitative methodologies
  • Published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals

Start by reading the article abstract. Does the author talk about their data and methodology?

Look at the article itself. Most will follow a particular structure:

  • Introduction and Literature Review
  • Method
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Reference/Bibliography


Review Articles

  • Report based on summary and synthesis of the majority of the research studies that have been completed on a topic
  • Published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals

Start by reading the abstract. Does the author talk about gathering literature and reviewing existing studies?

You can use a review article in your reference list to talk about the overall trends and findings on your topic. 

  • Consider choosing one or more studies discussed in the review article for your own references
    • Look up the studies using the review article's bibliography and entering the citation information into the MGet It Citation Linker.

Scholarly or Popular?


Sometimes it is hard to tell whether you have a scholarly or a popular article when you are looking at an online full-text article. Here are some clues:



Journal - Scholarly

Magazine - Popular


Detailed report of original research or experiment. Secondary report or discussion may include personal narrative, opinion, anecdotes.


Author's credentials are given, usually a scholar with subject expertise. Author may or may not be named; often a professional writer; may or may not have subject expertise.


Scholars, researchers, students. General public; the interested non-specialist.


Specialized terminology or jargon of the field; requires prior knowledge. Vocabulary in general usage; understandable to most readers.



Required. All quotes and facts can be verified. Rare. Scanty, if any, information about sources.


Developmental Psychology, Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
Almost anything with Journal in the title. Usually come with memberships in scholarly societies and are only available in libraries.
Psychology Today, Discover, news magazines. Almost anything available in a store.

More Tips

These are guidlines, but as a general rule you will find popular articles in:

These databases have both scholarly and popular articles:

These databases are considered scholarly and don't cover popular articles: