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Primary Sources Guide

Identifying Research Articles

Research articles are usually fairly easy to distinguish because they follow a standard format. To identify a research article, look for the following components or variations of them:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References

Articles usually present data in tables or graphs. Reading the article's abstract should also help you to determine whether the article is a research article.

When searching databases for research articles, your first step should be to limit your articles to peer reviewed or refereed journals. Doing this will eliminate any magazine or newspaper articles. When you find an article, read the abstract and look for the following words or variations of them: study, survey, measure, data, statistical, experiment, research.

Some databases allow you to limit your research specifically to research. For example, when refining a search in the CINAHL database, under Publication Type you can limit your results to Research

Finding Research Articles

Search for research articles using science-specific databases, such as the following:

Searching the Internet for Scholarly Research Articles

Google Scholar can help when you're searching for hard-to-find information on very specific topics. It includes only academic sources, but not much of it is available in full text for free. It can be a useful tool for identifying articles on your topic that may be available through the Douglas College library or interlibrary loan.

Google Scholar Search