Primary* Research Journal Articles - Peer Reviewed

*Also commonly referred to as: Scholarly Journals, Peer Reviewed Journals, Primary Journal, Research Journals

Generally, Primary Journals have the following in common

  • Peer Review (Refereed)  - Blind, double blind - submission approval is based on the research being accepted upon review by peers that are expert to that  field of study
  • Place of FIRST published research on a topic
  • Often more than one author, particularly in scientific research
  • Ethics statement - how human and animal subjects are treated within experiments or using surveys
  • Use research methods tied to the subject discipline. 
  • Follow citation guidelines for citing sources common within that scholastic discipline
  • Caveat - sometimes what appears to be a primary research article is instead a REVIEW article.  Though valuable, this is not considered the primary research.

Note: Journals can be ranked by prestige.  An article published in Nature, Science, Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences is big accomplishment and may suggest the weight given to the results of the published research versus another publication.  Generally speaking, you should be able to rank your works cited by their "prestige" of the journals that are listed.


Common Elements of Science and Social Science Research Journal Articles 

__________Abstract (summary of article often written by author)   An abstract from a citation using a database search often can help determine in an article is a primary research source

__________Methods or Materials Section (This is probably the most important feature of a primary research article.  It literally says - "this is how we did the experiment or study")

__________Hypothesis or Question (generally at the end of introduction section)


__________Conclusion / Results



Use the above checklist to see if your article is a primary research source.  If you only have access to the citation abstract and not the full text article, see if you can determine from the abstract if it is a primary article.  Look for a description of the methods in the abstract that describes the results and methods.