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SOC 324: Introduction to Sociology Research : Research Guide

Primary and Secondary Articles in Academic Journals

Primary articles consist of findings from an original research project. The authors design a study, collect data and findings, complete an in-depth analysis, and present their findings and conclusions.

Secondary articles analyze, synthesize, critique, and interpret the findings and conclusions of primary and secondary articles and sources.

Primary and secondary academic articles go through a peer review process before they are published.

The Peer Review Process is when experts in the relevant research area assess articles for originality, validity and significance.

By undergoing peer review, articles should become:

More robust - peer reviewers will point out gaps in a paper that require more explanation or additional experiments.

Easier to read - if parts of the article are difficult to understand, peer reviewers will suggest changes.

More useful - peer reviewers also consider the importance of the article to others in the field.”


Four Types of Academic Articles Found in Library Databases/Journals


  1. Original Study: This type of research article reports new findings from studies the researchers designed and conducted themselves, and have not been previously published. The researchers may collect the data themselves or design a new way to analyze and evaluate data from larger data sets collected by other researchers or organizations.

    The researches will detail their study in the following sections: Background, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusions (note: some systematic reviews also use this format). You can determine where the data has come from and how the researchers conducted their study in the Methods section.    


  1. Theoretical Article: This type of research article uses previously published research to provide a foundational background for a theory, explore how existing theories can be applied in new ways, or uses existing research to construct a new theory and approach. The authors do not conduct any type of original research.
  2. Literature/Systematic reviews: use previously published research involving a detailed and comprehensive plan and search strategy in order to identify, appraise, and synthesize all relevant studies on a particular topic. The authors do not conduct any type of original research to compile their reviews. Their goal is to determine what is known and unknown (or what additional research needs to be conducted).  
  3. Meta-Analysis Reviews: use previously published research by scholars and researchers using both a systematic approach and statistical techniques to synthesize the data from several studies in order to compare and analyze. Meta-Analysis uses the Background, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusions format, but should not be confused with original research studies.

The following handouts will show you how to find article in the library databases: 


 Ebsco Databases 


 Google Scholar 


I found an article that says it is available from Find it@WOU. How do I get the article?

 Find it@WOU 



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