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Psychology: PSYC 341

Subject Guide for Psychology

Primary Source Articles

Primary Source Articles

What is a primary source article, and how can you find one? To learn more, please watch the "Finding Primary Source Articles" video presentation.

Links to the APA methodology fields document as well as the empirical articles guide referenced in the video presentation are found below.

APA PsycInfo Methodology Field Values

APA PsycInfo allows you to limit your search to a specific methodology or set of methodologies.  One methodology field in APA PsycInfo offers you the opportunity to search specifically for empirical studies.


Related Links:

Direct Link to Methodology Field Values Document (American Psychological Association PDF)

Using the Methodology Limiter in APA PsycInfo on EBSCOhost (American Psychological Association tutorial)

Empirical Articles - Sample Research Tips

This guide helps to identify the major parts of an empirical article and covers sample strategies for locating them through databases such as APA PsycInfo and ERIC. There are also general tips applicable to other databases.

Popular Source Articles

The primary source articles you typically use for academic research are found in scholarly sources. While popular sources, such as newspapers and magazines, may contain primary source information (e.g., coverage of a historic event, write-up of an interview, excerpts from a speech, photographs), they are not considered scholarly. Popular source articles also may report the findings of a specific study; however, to see the actual results as reported firsthand by the author(s) of the study, it is important to find the study (the primary source itself) in the scholarly journal that published it.

You also may find that both popular and scholarly sources are referred to as periodicals. The information below helps explain what a periodical is, as well as the difference between popular sources and scholarly sources.

Popular vs. Scholarly Literature

Simply stated, all periodicals are publications that are published periodically. Periodicals are not all the same. Periodicals are presented in different mediums, they utilize different publication processes, and they appeal to a variety of readerships. Below you will find three types of periodicals. You will also find some distinctions between what the academic community considers popular and scholarly literature. 

Popular Sources: Newspapers and Magazines

  • Written for a general audience, using language that is easy to understand as well as pictures and advertisements.
  • Good for current news, opinions, and statistics.
  • Contain articles regarding timely subject matter.
  • Articles are usually written by reporters and columnists rather than specialists.
  • Articles may contain sources for authenticity, but newspaper articles do not contain footnotes or reference lists. 
  • Subject matter can be either general or focused on a particular topic. 

Scholarly Sources: Journals

  • Communicate scholarly research regarding a specific field of study.
  • Are often only published after being peer reviewed by other experts in the field.
  • Research is documented throughout the article.
  • Reference to other research in the field is documented.
  • Scholarly journals can contain research articles of an empirical nature. These usually include abstracts, introductions, methods, results, discussions, conclusions, and references. 


Adapted by Joy Lambert from Matt Mallard and Suellen Cox

Finding Primary Source & Popular Source Articles

For primary source articles, a good place to start is with the subject databases recommended for a specific subject area. As you do your research, please keep in mind the information presented in the "Primary Source Articles" section of this page. In particular, please remember the different strategies for finding primary source articles from scholarly, peer-reviewed sources.

Below you will find instructions for locating the list of databases recommended for psychology. You may apply the same steps to locate databases for other subject areas.

In addition, you will find a box with two specific databases you may use to search for popular source articles in periodicals such as newspapers and magazines.

If you need help with your research, please feel free to visit the Pollak Library's help page.

Complete List of PSYC Databases

To access a complete list of databases recommended for PSYC research, please use the "Psychology Databases" link from the main Psychology guide.

Sample Resources for Popular Source Articles

Interlibrary Loan


ILLiad is a free interlibrary loan service available to current Cal State Fullerton students, faculty, and staff.  Before requesting an item through ILLiad, it is important to know that the Pollak Library pays a cost of approximately $22.00 to process each request.  We, therefore, encourage responsible use of the ILLiad interlibrary loan system.

If the book you want has been checked out, you first will have the opportunity to request an available copy from another CSU through the CSU+ service found in OneSearch.  If the book you want is not available from another CSU, you also may try finding a similar item by searching the related Library of Congress subject headings for your particular title.

As you conduct your research for journal articles, try to locate similar items if the full text of your particular article is not available in print or online.

If after taking the above steps you determine that interlibrary loan is the best option for obtaining the specific resources you need, we welcome you to submit your request through ILLiad.

Please feel free to sign up for your ILLiad account by placing your mouse over "Borrow" on the Pollak Library home page and then clicking on the "My ILLiad Login" link.  A link to "My ILLiad Login" is also available below.


Related Links:

Interlibrary Loan Services (related program details)