There are many types of background materials: encyclopedias (both general and subject specific), handbooks, and dictionaries. Why use a background source? It can save you time by helping you with the groundwork.
To find scholarly articles in a library database:
Psychological articles and many papers in the social sciences follow the writing guidelines and format dictated by the American Psychological Association (APA). In general, the structure follows: abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, and references.
A summary of the article. (Note: Abstracts appear in reviews or secondary articles as well.)
This section provides background information about the origin and purpose of the performing the experiment or study. It reviews previous research and presents existing theories on the topic.
Sometimes called "methodology" or "materials and methods," this section describes the author's research methods and tools: experiment, survey, data sources, etc.
Also called "findings," this is the section of the article in which raw data are presented.
Sometimes called "analysis," this is the section in which the author analyzes the data.
The author's conclusions based on the analysis.
List of references to works cited in the article.
These standard parts of a research article may not always be labeled, and sometimes they are combined (for example, "Data and Methods"). Still, every research article indicates what methods and tools were used to conduct the research, what the results were, and how the author interprets those results.
Not every article in a scholarly journal contains research or analysis. Scholarly journals may also include:
These are not original or primary research articles.