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Experimental Psychology: Research

Steps in Research

Many students begin an assignment with a question and use research to find the answer. But in academic writing, research is actually part of the process of finding the question. Try beginning with a broad topic and doing research to figure out a question to ask about it. As you find facts about your subject you'll have a better sense of what kind of question you should be asking--with the help of research skills, you can devise an appropriate and achievable question. 

What is Peer Review?

Peer review is a process used to evaluate research and ensure quality and effectiveness of articles published in most scholarly journals. Check out this short video to learn how the process works, why it is used, and why you should include peer reviewed articles in your own research.

(length - 4:44)

Primary and Secondary Literature

Primary Literature: 
Primary literature for scientists means this is the first publication of original research in journals, conference proceedings, magazines, and other sources.  Primary literature is the original work on which other works are based and usually shares new knowledge, findings, or results in its original form without interpretation by other writers.   Expect to see the following sections:

  • Methods (population, materials. instruments)
  • Results (with charts, graphs, etc.)
  • Discussion

The abstract will probably include a phrase like “in this study” or something similar.  Articles will be very scholarly and appear in academic journals.

Secondary Literature: Are the works based on primary literature that usually include interpretation or commentary by other writers or scholars not involved in the original research.  Reviews of Literature are an example of Secondary Literature.

  • Review article:‚Äč  Author analyzes and summarizes all of the existing original research by others on a broad topic.  The title may include the phrase “literature review” or sometimes just “review.”    Articles will be scholarly and appear in academic journals.
  • News: ‚ÄčAuthor will summarize recent research.  Usually for a general or lay audience

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