A primary research article reports on a study conducted by the authors. This type of article:
- Asks a research question or states a hypothesis
- Identifies a research population
- Describes a specific research method
- Tests or measures something
- Includes a section called "method" or "methodology."
- Includes a section called "results."
Words to look for as clues include: analysis, study, investigation, examination, experiment, numbers of people or objects analyzed, control group, or survey.
To contrast, the following are NOT primary research articles (they are secondary sources):
- Literature reviews*
- Meta-Analyses/Review articles* (arrive at conclusions based on research from many other studies)
- Chapters in books
- Encyclopedia articles
- Speeches and interviews
* Literature reviews and meta-analyses also describe the authors' research method/methodology, focusing on their database search strategy and development of criteria for including or excluding individual study results. These articles are still secondary sources because they synthesize the findings of multiple research studies; the authors are not the primary researchers.