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Psychology Research Guide: Is it peer-reviewed? Is is psychological? Is it experimental?

Is it peer-reviewed? Is it psychological? Is it experimental?

Is it an article?

Make sure it is a scholarly article, not a book review, magazine article, or correction. It should have a References section and be more than a couple of pages long.


Is it peer-reviewed? 

If you used the peer-reviewed checkbox in PsycInfo, all the journals you find should be peer-reviewed. You can always look at their websites to make sure.


Is it psychological?

Check the journal name. It will often contain the work "psychology." If you are not sure whether this is a Psychology journal, try searching for the journal's website.

You can also check the author affiliations. Sometimes the affiliations are listed in the database. If the database only lists the author's name, try looking them up online to see where they work. Are they part of a Department of Psychology?


Is it empirical?

Under Advanced Search in PsycINFO, you can limit by methodology.

You can usually tell whether a study is experimental by carefully reading the abstract. Did the authors use the scientific method to answer or address a hypothesis? They might have used a number of methods, such as field, lab, correlational studies, or longitudinal studies. An experimental study usually has a Methodology or Methods section.

Some types of article that are NOT empirical:

  • Literature review
  • Meta-analysis
  • Theoretical article


Is it relevant to your topic?

Don't just trust the title. Read the abstract to help you figure out whether this article is relevant to your topic.