Skip to main content
Check Bryn Mawr's, Haverford's, or Swarthmore's library websites for additional resources during COVID-19.

PSYC 210: Developmental Psychology (HC) Fall 2020

Psychology 210: Developmental Psychology (Lei)

Popular Literature Versus Scholarly Literature

  Popular Scholarly
Author Staff writer; journalist Expert in the field; known credentials
Audience General public Scholars, researchers
Language Little technical language or subject-specific jargon Uses technical language and subject-specific jargon
Coverage Broad topics; shallow coverage; shorter length Narrow topics; in-depth coverage; longer length
Documentation Usually no bibliography Bibliography present
Peer-reviewed? No Often

Primary Literature Versus Review Literature

Primary literature

Empirical articles are examples of primary literature.

  • An empirical article reports the findings of original research done by the authors of the article.
  • Empirical articles are usually published in peer-reviewed journals.
  • An empirical article poses a research question or states a hypothesis.
  • ‚ÄčTo determine whether or not you've found an empirical article, scan the article (or even just the abstract). Look for an introduction, methods, results, and discussion sections.

How do I find an empirical article?

  • There's no perfect way to find empirical articles. Most empirical articles will describe a study that has been done, so you're best bet is to use the word "study" as one of your search words.
  • Also, review articles (see below) often have empirical articles in their list of references.

Review literature

  • Review articles in the sciences summarize previously reported findings rather than present new findings, often pulling together the findings of multiple empirical articles. In doing so, review literature often gives a broader view of the current state of understanding in a given topic area.