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Psyc 2500 - 05 - Asynchronous - Kalavar

Online Self-Paced Library Instruction

Primary vs Secondary Studies: Tips to Identify

 

The terms primary and secondary may be confusing to some when discussing the social sciences. Why? Most academics and students are familiar with the term primary as it relates to history and literature. In history, the Declaration of Independence is a primary source. A book about the Declaration of Independence is a secondary source. In literature, Shakespeare's, Hamlet is a primary source, a book or article critiquing Hamlet is a secondary source.

What are primary and secondary studies in psychology?

Primary studies are research studies in which the authors of the article conducted the study, gathered data, and analyzed the data themselves. The authors are presenting new findings in the article.

Secondary studies are research studies in which the authors of the article studied someone else's data. Examples include analysis of national and international data and meta-analysis.

One must read the abstracts and/or the methodology sections to determine whether or not the research study is primary or secondary. Unfortunately, there are no codes or tags that indicate if a study is primary or secondary. YOU MUST READ the ABSTRACT and METHODOLOGY to determine primary or secondary study. It is tempting to assume that the methodology "empirical study" will only return primary sources. This is not accurate. Many articles are coded as empirical studies that are studies of national data.

Visually scan the abstract of the article and the methodology section for the words and phrases listed below. Read the sentences surrounding those words to determine if the authors of the article are the primary data gatherers. Did they select the participants, administer the assessment/study, gather and analyze the data?

Subjects were selected by [process used or group selected from]...(make sure not someone else's data).

A field experiment....

Data were collected...

Our study....

Methodology used...

...subjects participated...

... were studied...

 

Examples:

The authors of the article gathered participants, conducted a study with/on those participants, gathered data and analyzed  that data. The published article contains all of this information. The methodology section of the article explains the process used by the authors.

Example 1) Description of study in the methods section of the article:

Yonelinas, A. P., Parks, C. M., Koen, J. D., Jorgenson, J., & Mendoza, S. P. (2011). The effects of post-encoding stress on recognition memory:      Examining the impact of skydiving in young men and women. Stress: The International Journal on the Biology of Stress14(2), 136–144.  https://doi.org/10.3109/10253890.2010.520376

Link to PsycInfo Record

Example 2) Description of the study in the abstract in the PsycInfo database record:

Rabow, J., & Neuman, c.a. (1984). Saturday night live: Chronicity of alcohol consumption among college students. Substance & Alcohol Actions/Misuses, 5(1), 1-7.

Link to PsycInfo Record

 

 

Visually scan the abstract of the article and the methodology section for the words and phrases listed below. Read the sentences surrounding those words to determine if the authors of the article are the analyzing secondary data. Did they use data previously collected in a different study? Did they use national data? Did they gather their own data and analyze it OR did they analyze someone else's data?

 

Key phrases in abstract:

National data were.....

Subjects were from.... national.....

Using data from [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigation]...

...sample consists of suicide victims in the National Violent Death Reporting System 

 

Example 1) Description of the study in the abstract in the PsycInfo database record:

Note: These are studies, but the authors are analyzing someone else's data. The authors of the article conducted a study of someone else's data.

 

 

Link to PsycInfo Record 

Example 2) Description of the study in the abstract in the PsycInfo database record:

Link to PsycInfo Record