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CRIM 3104 Library Workshop for Shereen Hassan's students

This short guide will help you to:

REFRESHER: What are peer-reviewed, primary research articles?

In the question below, each link (e.g. Item 1) will take you to a description of an article.
  1. Click on each link to view the description.
  2. Read the article's abstract in the description.
  3. Click in the radio button for the correct answer to "Which of these is a primary research article?". If you need to refresh your memory on what peer-reviewed, primary research articles are, click on the tabs above this box.
  4. Please only vote once.

We'll review the poll results to see if we need to spend class time refreshing your understanding of these types of articles.

Which of these is a PRIMARY research article?
Item 1: 16 votes (47.06%)
Item 2: 3 votes (8.82%)
Item 3: 1 votes (2.94%)
Both Item 1 and Item 2: 14 votes (41.18%)
Total Votes: 34

What is a peer-reviewed journal?

Peer-reviewed journals are often called scholarly or academic journals. They are different from popular magazines. Articles in peer-reviewed journals:

  • are written by experts for other experts
  • usually report on research
  • always include many in-text citations and a list of references or works cited by the author(s)
  • most importantly have been rigorously critiqued and reviewed by experts for quality before being published. This is called peer-review.

You'll find helpful info and videos to help you tell the difference between scholarly (peer-reviewed) and other journals on the CRIM 1208 research guide

Primary and secondary research articles

Once researchers complete an empirical study, 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.

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.

You'll find helpful info and videos about primary research articles in Criminology on the library's CRIM 1208 research guide.

Structure of a primary research article

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.

Example of a peer-reviewed, primary research article:

Title of the article Simultaneously treatable and punishable: Implications of the production of addicted subjects in a drug treatment court
Authors Tara Lyons
Title of the journal Addiction Research & Theory
Date August 2014
Volume and issue numbers vol. 22, no. 4
Page numbers 286-293
DOI 10.3109/16066359.2013.838227
Abstract excerpt

"Using data from a 25-month critical ethnography in the Ottawa DTC [Drug Treatment Court], this article explores how participants in DTCs are constructed as addicted subjects."

Note: critical ethnography is a qualitative research method

APA-formatted citation for this article:

Developing a Research Question

Qualitative research articles

Qualitative Research

"Research using methods such as participant observation or case studies which result in a narrative, descriptive account of a setting or practice."

SOURCE: Qualitative research. (2002). In R. Drislane & G. Parkinson (Eds.), Online Dictionary of the Social Sciences.

Examples of qualitative research methods:

  • interview
  • focus group
  • direct observation
  • enthography
  • case study
  • content analysis

Did you know? Qualitative articles are much less common than quantitative ones.

Less than 10% of research articles published in criminology and criminal justice journals use qualitative research methods.

SOURCE: Copes, H., Tewksbury, R., & Sandberg, S. (2016). Publishing qualitative research in criminology and criminal justice journalsJournal of Criminal Justice Education27(1), 121-139. doi:10.1080/10511253.2015.1109131

VIDEO: Empirical Studies: Qualitative vs Quantitative (5:21)

This video walks you through the differences between quantitative and qualitative research methods with 3 clear examples. From Utah State University Libraries

Strategies for finding qualitative research articles:

1. Get topic ideas by browsing journal tables of contents

2. Use a database that allows you to limit by research methodology

  • PsycINFO is the best for this. Look for the Methodology filter, and choose one (or more) of the following options:
    • "Field Study"
    • "Interview" (or more specifically "Focus Group")
    • "Qualitative Study"
  • Criminal Justice Abstracts and Social Sciences with Fulltext databases let you limit by Document Type. [Use caution here; these databases do not consistently apply these filters so you'll probably miss many useful articles.] The options are:
    • "Case study"
    • "Interview"

3. Include methodology terms in your search keywords

  • If you are using a research databases that does not provide the filters mentioned in Option 2, add the word QUALITATIVE as a keyword in your search.
  • Better yet, add the specific type of method as a keyword, e.g. "CASE STUDY"

4. Find one good article using a qualitative method and then use citation mapping to find others

  • Another approach is to find one article you like, and then look at the studies listed in its cited references.
  • Take it a step further and find out which articles have subsequently cited the article you already have. These may use a similar methodology, or comment on the methodology used in your article. 
  • If you'd like to learn more about this, see the "Citation Mapping" info on the CRIM 1208 library guide

In-class practice using shared Google Doc

  1. Find a partner; you can work in pairs or groups of three. 

  2. The librarian (Chris) will assign each group a number.

  3. Look at the table on the shared Google Doc and open the research database assigned to your group number.

  4. Search in your assigned database for an original, qualitative research article published in the last 5 years on this topic:

    • Marijuana use and impaired driving in Canada

  5. Enter an APA reference for a relevant article into the table.

Look for a recent literature review on your topic

Although every scholarly article will include a literature review, some journal articles are entirely literature reviews. These can be excellent sources to look at first for your own literature review. The authors will have identified important research on the subject and synthesized the findings. A good lit review can help you to narrow the focus of your research topic, and give you citations to primary research articles on your topic. Just make sure to check the date of the lit review. You want to find a fairly recent one.

Tips for finding literature reviews:

  1. Use a database that allows you to limit your search to literature reviews, e.g.:
    • PsycINFO: choose the Methodology "literature review"
    • ProQuest's Sociology Collection: choose the Document Type "literature review"
    • ERIC: choose Subject Descriptor (SU) "literature review"
    • Note: some databases -- especially medical ones -- refer to literature reviews as "review articles" or "reviews". However, other databases use the term "review" to mean a book review which you don't want. Be careful when you use these filters.
  2. If a database does not include this filter, just add the phrase "literature review" (in quotation marks) to your search keywords.

Research databases

Use Summon as a starting point

Use the KPU Library's search tool called Summon to look for different types of sources in the library's collection, all at once. Summon is the default search box on the Library's homepage. You can also use the quick search box below.

  • Start by looking for your broad topic in Summon.
  • Limit your search results to Scholarly & Peer Review Articles using the filter in the left menu. 
  • Use other filters in the left menu if you want, such as Publication Date, Discipline, or Topic to reduce the number of results
  • Scan the titles and abstracts (under "Quick Look") of the first 15 articles (or more if you want!)
    • look especially at which population groups were studied and what aspect of your topic the articles focused on

Recommended library databases

Try starting your search in one (or more) of the databases listed below. KPU Library subscribes to over 200 research databases covering different subjects and types of information. You can filter the list of databases by subject. 

Be sure to limit your search to peer-reviewed (scholarly) journal articles using the filter available in each database.

But watch out! these filtered results will include articles such as book reviews and editorials which have not been peer-reviewed. Always look at the article for the typical features of a scholarly article such as an abstract and extensive in-text citations.

Google Scholar

If you have not found anything useful in the Library's databases (though that's very unlikely, especially if you use the search tips shown in the next tab on this guide!), you may want to check Google Scholar.

Google Scholar lists articles from a wide variety of scholarly journals. It also includes references to book chapters and many other types of sources.

Google Scholar Search
How do I find the full text for an article I found in Google Scholar?

Google Scholar does not usually provide the full-text for articles for free, so you might get prompted to pay for access to an article. 

Do not pay for articles! It's quite likely that the KPU Library subscribes to the journal. If we don't, we can get it for you free of charge.

  • If you are on-campus, look for the "Full text at KPU" link in your results.
  • If you're off-campus, customize the Google Scholar settings to check the KPU Library for full-text. Choose 'Library Links' and then type in Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
  • If the KPU Library does not have the journal article that you need, you can request a copy from another library through interlibrary loan at no charge. We do the searching and can deliver most articles to you via email within 2 business days.


When to use this



Search for words or phrases that have a same or similar meaning

TIP: Type syn ____ into Google to generate synonyms (e.g. syn adolescent)

youth, teenager, adolescent

Spelling variations

Search for different spellings of a word

defence, defense


Search for different endings of a word stem using the asterisk symbol

TIP: Check your database; it might use a different truncation symbol

crim* will search for
crime, crimes, criminology, and so on

Phrase searching

Search for all terms in the exact order specified within quotation marks

“racial profiling”

Boolean operators

AND will narrow a search by returning items only containing both terms

youth AND crime

OR will broaden a search by returning items with one or both terms. Use this to combine synonyms. Remember that OR = MORE results.

youth OR adolescent

NOT will narrow a search by returning items with the first term but not both terms

defence NOT hockey


Where can I get this article?

If you are searching in a KPU library database:

  • You will often see a link directly to the full-text of the article; look for a PDF icon, or a link that says "full-text"
  • If you do not see this, click on the link that says "Where can I get this?". This will often link you to the full article in another database available through KPU Library.
  • If KPU Library does not subscribe to this journal, you will be given the option to request the article AT NO CHARGE through the interlibrary loan request link. We do the searching and can deliver most articles to you via email within 2 business days.


If you have a citation for a specific article:

  1. Cut and paste your citation into our Summon Search tool, or

  2. Look up the journal title here to find out if it's available through KPU Library:

This search will ONLY tell you whether Kwantlen users have access to a specific journal title, and link you to a list of available issues. This tool will NOT search for individual articles on a specific topic. For that, you need to use either Summon or one of the library's research databases.

APA citation style

Here is an example of how to cite a scholarly journal article (which has a DOI code) in APA style:

APA7 journal article citationn (with DOI code)