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Psychology

Browse library resources for the study of Psychology (go/psycguide/)

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Primary Sources in Psychology

In Psychology, a primary source (sometimes called a "primary empirical article" or an "empirical article") is a research article that is written by the person who performed the original scientific investigation. This is in contrast to review articles or articles published in newspapers or magazines that describe research that was performed by someone else. 

To determine whether an article is a primary source, first, remember that the article must be written by the people who did the original scientific investigation. Look for language that indicates the authors performed the actions they are describing, for example, "We surveyed a sample of university students..." or "We observed thirty healthy adults..." Then, look at the structure of the article. Primary sources are usually divided into sections such as: Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion or Conclusions. Don't be thrown off when you see references to investigations done by other researchers; most primary sources begin with a review of relevant work.