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Psychology-- Primary Sources (vs. Secondary Sources): Primary Vs. Secondary

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

Primary Vs. Secondary Research Articles

Analyzing the Article:

Primary Source vs. Other Articles

In general, you should always analyze and study an article, carefully, before selecting it for your research (let alone, printing it).  Your instructor  should cover the differences between a primary source (examples: experiment, quasi­experiment, correlational or descriptive study) and a secondary source (examples: literature review, book review).

You should also be able to look beyond any  editorials or brief articles that do not focus on any type of psychological study at all. Here are some clues to guide you:

A primary source should be more than a couple pages long. While part of the article may review other experiments and studies done on a topic, that part should be limited to the introduction and should not cover the entire article. Most often, you will see the article broken down into categories such as Method, Measures, Procedures, Data Analysis, Results, and Conclusion. The wordings and number of such categories can vary. Studies usually will include exhibits, charts, or graphs as  a visual to the data the author(s) have collected.

A secondary source will be more of an analysis of other articles. The author(s) are not conducting an experiment or study on his/her/their own. Instead, the entire article discusses, evaluates and probes other studies. You, yourself, will be creating a "secondary source" with the paper you will write for this assignment.

Scholarly Journals vs. Popular Magazine Articles


Scholarly vs. Popular Articles

Scholarly Journal

Purpose -  report on original research or experimentation

Length - longer, in-depth analysis 

Authors - expert or scholar in discipline, name and credentials provided

Language/Audience - jargon of discipline for scholarly readers

Format/Structure - serious look, structure (abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion), always cite sources

Evaluation - reviewed and evaluated by subject experts and editors



Popular Magazine Articles

Purpose -  to entertain, to sell products, to promote a particular viewpoint

Length - short, broad overview, litle depth

Authors - staff writer/journalist, name and credentials often not provided

Language/Audience - simple language, general readers

Format/Structure - slick, attractive appearance, not a specific format, does NOT cite sources, lots of graphics

Evaluation - not evaluated by subject experts or editors




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