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Library Research Guides

Primary Sources: Magazine, Newspaper, and Journal Articles as Primary Sources

This guide defines primary and secondary sources and suggests resources for primary documents.

Original Research Journal Article

Your professor may ask you to find primary or original research articles on a topic. These are articles in which the authors present a new set of findings from original research after conducting an experiment or study. These articles usually contain the following parts:

Abstract: An overview or summary of the research.

Methods: This section describes the techniques used to execute the experiment in detail, including the collection of data, and the statistical procedures used. The language may be technical, so it can be difficult for non-specialists to read. A detailed explanation of the method is necessary for two reasons:

  • others may wish to repeat the experiments to test the findings
  • the validity of the results depends in part on the techniques and types of analyses used

Results: A presentation of the outcome of the experiment. If necessary, tables, statistical tests where appropriate, and figures and diagrams are used.

Discussion: Interpretation of the author's results in light of previous work in the area. Here the authors must convince the reader of the validity and importance of their findings. Sometimes, ideas for future or follow-up research are included.

References cited: A listing of all the articles cited within the article. This is an excellent way to find citations to other related articles.

Magazine and Journal Articles

Magazine articles that are created at the time of an event may be primary sources. Original research journal articles are also primary sources. Here are good sources for articles:

Newspaper Articles

Newspaper articles from the time period of the event may also be primary documents. Try these sources for newspaper articles.