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PSYCH 101 - General Psychology - Baart: What is a Scholarly Article?

This guide will help students in Prof. Baarts General Psychology class with their library research assignment.

What is a Scholarly Article?

Popular vs Scholarly Sources

Video from the folks in the Kimbel Library at Coastal Carolina University explaining the difference between Popular and Scholarly sources.

How can I tell if something is a research article?

The WebMD article linked above uses language that tells you it is not the original study but discussing research someone else has conducted:

  • "The findings suggests."
  • "They're acknowledging that..."
  • "The researchers said..."
  • "The researchers found that..."

The study WebMD is discussing is a scholarly source, but the WebMD article itself is not. It is a secondary source - one that summarizes original research. The article includes some publishing information about the original study that will help you find the research article.

*There is nothing 'wrong' with the WebMD article, it is just not appropriate for this course.


From the WebMD article:


Use the information provided  (author, journal name, date, subject) as search terms to find for the original study: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, November 3, 2014, Wig, brain and memory. This is available online (I can use the Journal Finder to see if it is available in a library database).

Note the language in the research study that informs you that it is original research:

  • "We describe..."
  • "We characterize..."
  • "We use...
  • "We also observed..."
  • "We focused on..."

These phrases show the reader that the authors of the article are the same ones who conducted the study and are presenting their original research. Original research articles are often referred to as Scholarly, Peer-Reviewed or Professional sources.

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