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CRIM 1208: Research Methods

What are original (primary) research articles?

Primary and secondary research articles

Once researchers complete a project, they will usually (try to) publish their findings in a peer-reviewed journal. These are often called PRIMARY or ORIGINAL research articles because they are the first-publication of new research findings and are written by the researchers themselves. They may also be called EMPIRICAL articles.

Secondary sources of information describe, explain, interpret or summarize primary sources. These include encyclopedias, book reviews, commentaries, literature reviews, and any books or journal articles that simply discuss the original (previously-published) work of others. Although these can be very helpful sources for identifying primary research articles, they are not primary studies themselves.

VIDEO: What is Original (Primary) Research in Criminology? (19:38)

Describes the typical structure of an original research article, with a particular focus on the Methods section. It shows examples of several types of original research articles (qualitative and quantitative, including articles using secondary data, and meta-analyses), as well as several types of secondary articles (book reviews, editorial essays, theoretical analyses and literature reviews). The emphasis is on learning to read the abstract for indications of original research, and checking for a Methods section in the article.
Part 1 of the Finding Original Research Articles in Criminology video series.

  • Video (Kaltura)
  • Video transcript (text file)
  • different types of material in scholarly journals

    Sections of an original research article include Abstract, Introduction, Method, Findings or Results, Discussion, Conclusion and References

    Structure of a primary research article

    A primary (original) research article will usually be divided into several labeled sections. The screenshot above is from the video "What is Original (Primary) Research in Criminology?". You can jump to the 3:10 timestamp to watch the "Sections of an original research article" segment of the video.

    • Abstract
    • Introduction (which usually includes a literature review)
    • Method (often called Methodology or Methods) -- always found in an empirical research article
    • Findings or Results
    • Discussion
    • Conclusions
    • References

    The names of the parts may vary, but a primary research article will always include a methodology section explaining how the research was conducted (i.e. what type of empirical method was used). Most secondary journal articles do not include a methods section.