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BIOL 415/416/420: Research and Readings: Primary vs Secondary

Primary Sources Are......

In the Biological world, Primary Sources most frequently journal articles that contain original research, or new research and findings.  They are distinguished by containing the following sections:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials & Methods
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion

For most of the Lit Review research that you do, you will be both looking for *and* using primary sources.  

Primary sources are found via academic databases - and we have lots of those for you to search through!  Use the "Search Engine Databases" tab in this guide to look over these and start searching!

Secondary Sources Are....

Secondary Sources are articles that contain summaries or explanations of someone else's original research.  


Secondary sources interpret and/or review primary sources - they do NOT contain original research.


Most of the time when you are doing Lit Review research, you will *not* be looking for secondary sources.  However, some secondary sources are a nice summary of changes that have happened over time in a certain discipline or topic of study, so they can be useful in that way way.  We have lots of secondary sources in our "Search Engine Databases" tab within this guide.  Click on over and take a look!