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Psychology, general: Research for writing: Types of scholarly journal articles

This guide contains resources that can be applied to all Psychology courses at Tacoma Community College

Research studies vs. review articles

What is an empirical study versus a literature review (also known as a "lit review")?

Empirical studies:

  • are reports of original research, usually results of lab experiments
  • have sections for the introduction, materials & methods, results, and discussion
  • include key phrases like "we tested" and "in our study, we measured"

Literature reviews:

  • are critical evaluations of material that's already been published
  • define or clarify a purpose; summarize previous investigations; identify problems or gaps in knowledge; and suggest next steps
  • do not include original (physical or lab) research

Image source: "Empirical vs. Review Articles" by William H. Hannon Library - Loyola Marymount University is in the Public Domain, CC0

Characteristics of a research study

A journal article usually includes the following:

  • abstract, which provides a summary of the article
  • introduction, which includes background info and description of the author's purpose
  • materials & methods, which has details about the study so that other scientists could repeat the study
  • results, which includes any new observations, data and findings
  • discussion, which describe what the findings mean and their implications, and address potential criticisms of the study

Source: "Anatomy of a Journal Article" by Dominique TurnbowUC San Diego Libraries

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