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PSY321 Cross-cultural Psychology

This guide assists with finding empirical studies in cross-cultural psychology

Empirical Sources in Psychology

Primary sources in science have to:

  • Document original research work. That's called "first disclosure."
  • Include enough information for peers to understand and reproduce the work. This helps with the institution of peer review (please see below for a brief video about the peer review process).
  • Be indexed in a science journal article database like Web of Science, PsycINFO and Scopus.

Most of the time, we consider peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles to be the model primary sources in science.

Empirical studies are reports of original research; [… they] consist of distinct sections that reflect the stages in the research process and that appear in the following sequence:” (APA 6th ed., p. 10; APA 7th ed. pp. 4-9, 77-108):

  • introduction: statement of the purpose of the paper, and historical background for the research;
  • method: description of how the research work was carried out;
  • results: what was observed, and how it was analyzed;
  • discussion: what are the significance and the interpretation of the findings.

IMRAD model

Take a look at this interactive guide to scholarly peer-reviewed articles. It shows all the elements common to empirical studies.

This table can help you to decide whether the article you found is a primary empirical article (scholarly and peer-reviewed) suitable for your literature review in this course:

empirical articles

The following are scholarly peer-reviewed articles that are neither empirical nor primary. These would not be suitable for your literature review:

peer-reviewed scholarly articles that are not empirical


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed., 2nd printing). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).

Day, RA, and Gastel, B. (2006). How to write and publish a scientific paper. 6th ed. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.

Find Empirical Studies in PsycINFO

A good starting point is the specialized psychology journal article database called PsycINFO. PsycINFO lets you search all the key research journals in psychology at the same time.

  •  Scroll down and find the Methodology search limit. Select "Empirical Study":

Methodology Filter

  • Once you have selected the limits, click on Search. Make sure to look at the abstracts of the articles you find. 
  • Often the type of study conducted is mentioned clearly in the abstract, and it will always be listed below the abstract under the Methodology.
  • Remember: Empirical studies can be quantitative or qualitative, or mixed.

Peer Review in 3 Minutes

Is the Journal Peer-Reviewed?

Ulrich's Periodical Directory lets you see whether a journal in which you found your article is scholarly and peer-reviewed. 

Search for the title of the journal in Ulrich's

screen cap of ulrich's search

If the journal is peer-reviewed, you will see a REFEREE'S T-shirt image beside the title:

screen cap of refereed journal symbol


Comparing Non-Scholarly and Scholarly Resources

  Non-Scholarly Sources (Newspapers, Magazines, etc)

       Scholarly Sources  (including peer-reviewed journals)

  • General public
  • Scholars in that field, and the academic community
  • Journalists; professional writers; persons with a general interest in that topic.
  • No academic affiliation or credentials given
  • Experts in that field (faculty, post-docs, graduate students, etc.)
  • Articles will include author's research affliations
  • Editor working for publisher
  • Editorial board of scholars
  • Peer reviewers who are experts in the field
Citations (Footnotes, Endnotes, etc)
  • References are typically NOT included
  • Includes a bibliography, references, or works cited section.
  • Commercial publisher
  • Scholarly or professional organization, an academic press
Writing Style
  • Assumes readers have no or little knowledge of topic
  • Intended for broad readership
  • Assumes reader has a level of knowledge in the field
  • Uses jargon and technical details related to the field
Other Characteristics
  • Includes advertisements and pictures
  • Glossy presentation
  • Broad subject coverage
  • Text heavy, with few if any images excepts for graphical presentation of data
  • Tables and charts included
  • Few or no advertisements
  • A narrow subject focus