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Types of Articles

Primary Research Articles

Primary research articles are also often known as scientific articles or peer-reviewed research articles. If the article is NOT written by the person or group who did the research, it is NOT a primary research article. Primary research articles are important for knowing what new discoveries have been made. This is why it is important to use recent articles, since they will be the first things published on a new scientific development. 

Here's a quick overview of how to identify these journal articles:

  • written by the scientist(s) who actually did the research
  • follows a specific format 
    • abstract 
    • introduction
    • materials & methods
    • results
    • conclusions
    • references 
  • assumes reader already knows background information about the topic has been evaluated by experts

NOTE:  Look for a statement about when the article was accepted for publication. Most peer-reviewed articles will include one.

Example of a Research Article


Reading a Primary Research Article

When looking at the abstract, look to see if the authors conducted original research. The abstract will also tell you the conclusions of the study, which is very helpful in choosing which articles to read.


The abstract is great for learning the basics about an article. However, you will need to read the article to really understand it.

Reading through the Methods and Results will give you a much stronger understanding. The Methods section should explain how the research was conducted. The Results section should explain what the authors found from their research. 

If you still find the article useful, move on the Conclusion. The Conclusion section will connect the study to the bigger picture. It can be helpful to identify weaknesses to the study and future areas for research.

Review Articles

Review articles are written when authors read and summarize research on a topic. Review articles are useful for learning about what kind of research has been done previously on a topic.
Here's a quick overview of how to identify these articles:
  • current state of knowledge in the field
  • recent developments 
  • limitations of previous research
  • suggestions for future research
Example of a review article


Popular Press Articles

Popular press articles are also often known as non-scientific articles. They are most useful for very current or general information. 

Here's a quick overview of how to identify these articles:

  • about current events, opinions, and general information
  • include color photos and everyday product advertisements
  • written by journalists/reporters, staff or freelance writers
  • easy to understand writing

Popular press articles are often published as a reaction to a research article, making the information available to the general public.

Library Resources

Where to Start

It is important to start your research from the Library. The job of the Library is to buy the best resources available for the types of research done here at DelVal. By using the links on the Library homepage, you are taking full advantage of your tuition dollars.

When you search online using a tool like Google Scholar, you will find articles from many different journals and publishers. Some will be free, some won't. Some will be high quality, some won't.

Google Scholar can be a very valuable tool, especially if you connect it to the Library which will give you access to all the articles the Library already buys. Even so, Google Scholar will give you hundreds of thousands of irrelevant results; the Library databases will give you hundreds of right ones.

Interlibrary Loan

If a book or article you want is not available, use Interlibrary Loan (ILL). The Library can order books and articles from other libraries. This process takes few days but is completely free for DelVal students, faculty, and staff.

Before you submit an ILL, check Google Scholar or Summon to see if we have immediate access or if it is freely available online.

White Papers

What are White Papers?

White papers are similar to reports you would write in high school. They take a position on a topic or propose a solution to a problem. This way, they educate readers and help them to understand and solve an issue.

Formatting a White Paper

From Purdue OWL:

A white paper typically starts with a big picture and leads readers to the proposed solution. Make the headings clear and specific so that busy readers can scan the white paper effectively. The following are general guidelines on organizing a white paper.


It is a good idea to provide a summary at the beginning of the paper in order to have busy readers quickly grasp the main point.


A white paper needs to provide readers with general background information of a particular issue in order to help them make their decision based on the understanding of facts. Show them enough evidence that you are an expert on the subject. Point out problems from your readers' perspective. Make sure that you do not digress from the main subject; do not pose problems for which you cannot provide solutions.


After explaining the background and problems, propose your solution.


If you write a white paper for a commercial purpose, mention your products/services last to ensure that your readers read the whole paper. If you advertise before convincing your readers of the truths of your argument, they are more likely to be turned off.


Write a conclusion in order to wrap up the white paper and enhance your readers' understanding.


Put the works cited at the end of your white paper. Do not forget to put the information of hyperlinked sources for the reader who prints out your white paper.

Plagiarism and Bibliographies

Plagiarism and Common Knowledge

Plagiarism is the use of work without giving appropriate citation. You can also plagiarize yourself if using a paper you wrote for another class. Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional.

Sometimes, information is so well known that it doesn't require a citation. For example, there are seven continents. Everyone accepts this fact so it is considered common knowledge. 

If you have to question whether you should or shouldn't cite a source, cite it!


RefWorks is a new way to collect, manage, and organize research.  You can read, annotate, organize, and cite your research as well as collaborate by sharing collections.

From simple bibliographies to papers formatted with in-text citations or footnotes, RefWorks handles it all. ‚ÄčTo learn more about RefWorks, use our RefWorks research guide.

To create a RefWorks account:

  1. Go to the link below and click Create account
  2. Fill in your information, making sure to use your DelVal email address.  
  3. Go to your inbox and click the email link to complete the activation process. 

Already have an account? Just go to the link below and click "Log In"