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Identifying peer-reviewed articles

Scholarly articles in psychology typically have the following characteristics

  • Published in scholarly peer-reviewed journals
  • Written by reputable authors (Eg. professors at universities or professionals in the field)
  • Follow a traditional format. Eg. Abstract, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion
  • Use highly technical language
  • Reference other scholarly works
  • Include a 'digital object identifier' (or DOI)


Empirical vs. review articles

Empirical Articles Review Articles

An empirical article will report on data gathered and analyzed as part of an original experiment. There will be...

  • At least one experimental group and a control group of study participants 

  • A methods section in which the researchers describe how they have collected and analyzed data.

  • Quantitative and/or qualitative data used to make a claim about the effectiveness of a treatment. 

A review article will take a number of empirical articles, and perform some analysis.

There are a few different types:

  • Literature Reviews give a broad overview of a given topic at a moment in time. 

  • Systematic Reviews are a rigorous review of primary research articles, with explicit inclusion criteria. They're often used in the Health Sciences to gauge the effectiveness of specific interventions. Systematic reviews will discuss their inclusion criteria, search methods, and occasionally their search statement in the article. 

  • Meta-Analyses are statistical syntheses of collected data, as part of a systematic review.

Activity: Is this article appropriate?

1) Examine the following paper

"Treatment outcomes using CBT-IA with Internet-addicted patients" by Young, 2013.


Is this article appropriate, base on your assignment guidelines?
Yes: 3 votes (75%)
No: 1 votes (25%)
Total Votes: 4

Search PsycInfo for peer-reviewed articles

Other databases to try

Reading, summarizing, and citing

Reading articles

Scholarly articles often follow a similar format. This makes it easy to hop around the article and gather the most important information. Here are some tips for getting started.

  1. Read the abstract, introduction and methodology
    By reading these sections first, you should be able to identify the objective of the study and how the study was conducted (the method).
  2. Read the discussion and conclusion (at the end)
    The conclusion and discussion will tell you a broad overview of the study findings, but also why those finding are significant.

  3. Read literature review and results
    If the article seems relevant, go ahead and read the rest of the article. From the literature review you will better understand the 'research gap' that this article fills and the details of the study results. Reading the results can take time, especially if the article uses statistical methods.

Consideration as your read

  • Is there sufficient justification for why the study is being conducted?
    • Did the authors provide evidence of a research gap in the literature?
  • How widely applicable are the findings? Can the findings be explored in a different setting or with a different population?
  • Was the hypothesis clear or easy to find?
  • What are the implications of these findings?
  • Could the research design/methodology/test instrument be applied or tested in a new context?
  • Is there another way to measure the variables of interest?
  • Does the author explain the significance of the research results?

Summarizing the article

Do the following when reading an academic article

  • Take notes on each section of the article.
  • Focus on the article's main ideas/arguments, not minor details. Tip: How would you explain this article to a family member?
  • Take notes as you read in your own words. Avoid quotes.
  • Write down unfamiliar terms that seem important to look up later.

Summarization resources

See the MRU Library "Citation guides and resources" page for APA 7th edition citation guides.

The key aspects of an APA citation

  • Author (who wrote the source)
  • Date (when the source was published)
  • Title (the title of the source)
  • Source (where you located the source you found. Eg. book, academic journal, newspaper, blog, website, etc.)

Getting citation information from an academic article

Its recommended that you retried the full PDF of an article to get the relevant citation information

Example article