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Utah State University Library

PSY 3500: Scientific Thinking and Methods in Psychology: Home

This LibGuide will help you learn to do research in the field of Psychology. [PSY|3500]


This LibGuide provides information on finding research in Psychology. Please contact me if you need help. I can save you time. You can e-mail or IM me to ask a question or set up a time for an appointment.

Off-Campus Access

If you have an A number you can set up your computer at home to access USU library resources.

Searching PsycINFO

This one-page handout will walk you through a sample PsycINFO search here at USU.

Search Tips

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Primary Sources

  • Written first
  • Factual - tells what happened (e.g. report of empirical research)
  • Original thinking/new discoveries
  • Written by those who did the research
  • Published in scholarly journals
  • Detailed
  • Written for scholars & professionals
  • Follows a scientific model

Secondary Sources

  • Written later
  • Interpretive - explains the significance (e.g. newspaper or magazine article that mentions a study)
  • Describes/interprets/analyzes/evaluates/explains/comments on a primary sources
  • Written by journalists
  • Published in newspapers and magazines
  • Brief; overview of the findings
  • Written for public consumption
  • Doesn't follow a prescribed format

Why distinguish between primary and secondary sources?
We gain credibility when we base our own writing or opinions on solid evidence derived from empirical data and original documents. Primary sources definitely carry more weight than secondary sources, but secondary sources can be valuable in leading us to primary sources.

Finding Scholarly Research

You can use a variety of databases to find articles that discuss a particular test or aspects of it, such as its reliability. PsycINFO is the most important database to search, and the place to start, but other databases may have useful articles as well. Try both keyword and subject (thesaurus) searching.  Don't forget to click the 'peer-reviewed' box to limit your search to scholarly articles.

Subject Guide

Dory Cochran