Answered By: Jay Trask
Last Updated: Apr 11, 2017     Views: 38803

A primary research article reports on an empirical research study conducted by the authors. It is almost always published in a peer-reviewed journal. This type of article:

  • Asks a research question or states a hypothesis or hypotheses
  • Identifies a research population
  • Describes a specific research method
  • Tests or measures something
  • Includes a section called "method" or "methodology." This may only appear in the article, not the abstract.
  • Includes a section called "results."

Words to look for as clues include: analysis, study, investigation, examination, experiment, numbers of people or objects analyzed, content analysis, or surveys.

To contrast, the following are not primary research articles (i.e., they are secondary sources):

  • Literature reviews
  • Meta-Analyses/Review articles (These are studies that arrive at conclusions based on research from many other studies.)
  • Editorials
  • Letters
  • Chapters in books
  • Encyclopedia articles
  • Speeches and interviews