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Primary and Secondary Scientific Sources: Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Types of Science Source Articles

Primary sources are original works like research, paintings, plays, interviews, statistical tables, diaries, letters, etc. The author is the writer/creator of the original work. Most disciplines publish their original research in journal articles. These articles are considered primary sources.

Secondary sources are critiques, descriptions or reviews of original works.  This includes critiques of play, review articles that discuss somebody else's original research, etc.  Secondary sources are written by someone other than the author of the original work.  

Scientific primary sources focus on the research done

Determining the Difference

Primary Literature

Secondary Literature

Abstract

Usually

Not always

Introduction to Topic

Yes

Yes

Methods Section

Yes

Not usually

Results Section

Yes

Not usually

Data in Figures & Tables

Yes

Infrequent

Discussion Section

Yes

Entire paper may be a discussion

Conclusion

Yes

May be called a summary

Literature Cited

Yes

Not Always

Peer Review

Yes

May or may not be

Title

Brief statement of a
research project,
usually very technical

 

Focus

Very Narrow & Specific

 Broader overview

   

 

 

ID Primary & Secondary Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Source

·           Archives

·           Conference Papers

·           Correspondence

·           Dissertations

·           Diaries

·           Interviews

·           Lab Notebooks

·           Notes

·           Patents

·           Proceedings

·           Studies or Surveys

·           Technical Reports

·           Theses

·           Criticism and Interpretion

·           Dictionaries

·           Directories

·           Encyclopedias

·           Government Policy

·           Guide to Literature

·           Handbooks

·           Law & Legislation

·           Monographs

·           Moral & Ethical Aspects

·           Political Aspects

·           Reviews

·           Social Policy

·           Tables