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PSY309 Experimental Design and Theory: Resources

This guide supports the Experimental Design and Theory course offered to Psychology Specialists. It covers the basics of the research process and specialized psychology research databases.

Research articles and primary sources in the sciences

Scholarship is an extended conversation between researchers, and the scholarly literature in each discipline tells the story of of the inquiry that fuels the conversation.

Primary sources in the sciences, usually peer-reviewed journal articles, are the main mechanism researchers use to communicate original data and new ideas. Journal articles differ from popular sources in many ways. Take a look at this visual anatomy of a research paper created by the librarians at the North Carolina State University (NCSU) Library to find out what is essential in a primary research paper.

Before publication, research articles usually go through the peer review process.  Peer review starts the coversation of scholarship going! To find out how, watch this video from the NCSU Library:

Researchers Speak about Peer Review

While there have been acknowledged abuses and failures of peer review, many researchers still believe it is the best (if flawed) process we have. Take a look at these reflections on peer review as a research tool from scientists and information professionals interviewed during Peer Review Week 2019:

Reviewing the literature

Reviewing the literature for your assignment is the first step in participating in the conversation of scholarship. This video from the NCSU Libraries tells you how you add to the story by carrying out a thoughtful review of the literature:

Sources in Psychology

While you research, you will find more than scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles. This chart will help you determine whether the source is primary or not:

Sources used on this page

I would like to asknowledge the following resources I consulted or directly linked to while preparing this page:

Gibson, C., and Jacobson, T. (2014). Framework for information literacy for higher education (Draft). ACRL. Retrieved from:

NCSU Libraries. (2009). Anatomy of a scholarly article. Retireved from:

NCSU Libraries. (2014). Citation: A very (brief) overview. Retrieved from:

NCSU Libraries. (2014). Literature reviews: An overview for graduate students. Retrieved from:

NCSU Libraries. (2014). Peer review in 3 minutes. Retrieved from: