Answered By: Gabe [Research & Writing Studio]
Last Updated: Feb 25, 2020     Views: 91

Usually, when an instructor asks for a research article they are asking students to look for articles that are bases on original research. The important thing to keep in mind here is that while all research articles are peer-reviewed-- or scholarly-- articles, not all all peer-reviewed and scholarly articles are research articles. While all scholarly articles include a component of research in the sense that the authors did background research on the topic looking at other articles, books, and/or documents, what your instructor is most likely looking for is an article where the authors conducted a study of their own and are reporting on the results. The study may have taken place in a lab, through a survey, interviews, or some other method.

Clues to look for to find a research article:

  • Some databases, such as PsycINFO, include features that allow you to focus on research articles by choosing a methodology. While many do not, you might consider asking a librarian if there is a way to focus on research articles in the database you use.
  • Research articles usually have multiple authors.
  • Research articles will have multiple pages. For some disciplines there may be less pages than others, but generally a length of more than 4 pages is a good sign.
  • Research articles include a methodology section where they describe how their research was conducted. The section may not always have the word methodology in the heading, but there will be something equivalent.
  • The article authors are often affiliated with universities or major research centers.