Psychology Subject Guide: Primary Original Research Articles

What is a Primary Original Research Article?

Are you looking for a primary original research journal article?

If so, then you need to search for a peer-reviewed or scholarly journal article that:

  • reports a research study written by the actual researchers who did the study.
  • follows a structured reporting style.

Parts of a Primary Original Research Article

Primary research articles can be identified by a commonly used format or structure. Primary research articles will often contain:

  • Title and Author Information - provides the main idea of the article and authors are listed, along with their credentials
  • Abstract - provides a summary of the research article. This is useful for quickly determining if the article is relevant to your research.
  • Introduction or Literature Review - states the purpose of the research, may provide a summary of other research related to the topic, and may state a hypothesis or research question.
  • Methods or Methodology - describes how the research was conducted, with details about who participated in the study, the procedure, what was measured, and how it was measured. Note: A methods section indicates that a study is original research and that the article is a primary source.
  • Results - research findings are presented with results displayed using tables, charts, or figures along with a written explanation. Note: A results section  usually indicates that a study is original research and that the article is a primary source.
  • Discussion or Conclusion - explains how the results answered the research question and may suggest future areas for research.
  • References, Bibliography or Works Cited - lists the publications that the authors cited in the article.

Searching Databases for Primary Original Research Articles

Primary original research studies are available in many of the Library's databases, but you may want to consider searching databases in your subject area.

Most databases do not allow you to limit your search to primary original research only - you will need to search for peer-reviewed or scholarly articles on your topic and then look through the search results to find articles that describe primary original research.

Search Tips: Adding Keywords to Your Search

Adding certain keywords to your search may improve your chances of finding primary original research articles:

  • empirical
  • research
  • experiment
  • study
  • results and method*


  • pet therapy and results and method*
  • teens and marijuana and experiment
  • children and television and study
  • domestic violence and empirical
  • research and developmental college students

Search Tips: CTRL+F or Command+F

Control+F (PC) or Command+F (Mac), is a keyboard shortcut for the Find command.

If you're in a web browser and need to find where a word appears on a web page:

  • press Control+F (PC) or Command+F (Mac) to bring up a search box;
  • type in the word method & the web page will show where that term first appears on the web page - you may need to use the search box's next arrow to see additional uses of the word method on the web page.