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Attachment Across the Lifespan (PSYCH 457-001)

Winter 2023 - Prof. Jodl

Assignment Requirement: Scholarly Sources from the Empirical Literature

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)

Additional Article Criteria for Your Assignment

Avoid Meta-Analyses

Meta-analysis is a particular type of research methodology. PsycInfo defines meta-analysis as: "Statistical analysis of previously published empirical data." Usually, the author will indicate clearly in the article title or abstract that they are reporting on a meta-analysis.

In PsycInfo, meta-analysis articles are tagged as such in their methodology classification. However, they may also be classified as either an empirical study or a literature review, depending on the particulars of the individual article. You can always check the methodology classification of an article on the full article information page in the PsycInfo database.

"Recent" vs. "Older" Articles

You can use the date slider in the "Refine Results" column of PsycInfo to limit the date of publication to the past 5-10 years.

However, older articles may still be relevant to your literature review. Of particular note are "classic' studies or theoretical articles. How do you know if an article is a classic? Usually, it will be highly cited (i.e., it is popular and often discussed and referenced by other scholars and researchers). Here are some clues...

  • You notice that a lot of the newer articles you are reading all seem to cite to the same older article in their literature reviews
  • You read a textbook or reference work like an encyclopedia or handbook that cites to the article and explicitly mentions it as being foundational or influential
  • You see a high number of "Times Cited" references listed for that article in a literature database