Skip to Main Content

Attachment Across the Lifespan (PSYCH 457-001)

Winter 2023 - Prof. Jodl

Library Basics - What are Library Databases? What are Scholarly Sources?

Library Databases

What is a library database? Where do research articles come from? How do they end up in your search results? This video has the answers.

Scholarly Sources

Scholarly sources are products of academic research and scholarship. The peer-reviewed journal article is the gold standard source type, but when you search in a library database you may also find book chapters or entire books, dissertations (what someone writes to get their doctorate degree---these are book length), conference proceedings, etc.

What is peer review?

How do articles get peer reviewed? What role does peer review play in scholarly research and publication? This video will explain.


What is an empirical article?

A common assignment requirement is that you find a peer-reviewed empirical journal article. This means that not only should it be a scholarly article, but that it needs to report on the results of a research study.

  • 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


Other Types of Scholarly Journal Articles

  • Literature Reviews
    • Report based on summary and synthesis of the majority of the empirical research studies that have been completed on a topic
    • Not to be confused with a book review article, wherein the author discusses one or two books. The literature review article will discuss many different scholarly articles on a topic
  • Theoretical Articles
    • An essay that uses the intellectual tradition of a scholarly discipline, as represented by previously published books and articles, to discuss theory in various ways; e.g., to advance or refine a theory, to analyze and critique a theory, to apply a theory to a particular case, to compare and contrast related theories, etc.
  • Editorials and letters to the editor
  • Book reviews
  • Methodological articles (discussing research or statistical methods; approaches to conducting research and analysis)
  • Case studies (reports of a work with a specific individual, group, community, or organization)

Characteristics of Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly ("Popular") Sources


Journal - Scholarly

Magazine - Popular



-Empirical: Detailed report of an original research study

-Review: Summary/synthesis of many studies on a topic

-Theoretical: based on the intellectual tradition of a scholarly discipline

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. Scanty, if any, information about sources. May mention names of experts in text, but no bibliography.

Publication Process

Editorial oversight and peer-reviewed.
May be lengthy time period between submission and publication.
Usually limited to some editorial oversight. 
Often quick publication time frames.


American Sociological Review; Social Forces​
Almost anything with Journal in the title. Usually come with memberships in scholarly societies and are only available in libraries.
Psychology TodayDiscover, news magazines. Almost anything available in a store.