How do I find Primary Sources as a science or social science student?

Primary Sources are:

  • Researchers reporting first-hand about their new research
  • Includes some Journal articles and some Books (monographs)

In contrast, Secondary Sources summarize, analyze or report the work of other researchers.

The most common type of journal article you will find in the sciences deals with primary research. These articles describe an original experiment or analysis that adds to current knowledge a particular topic. 

Typically, Primary journal articles will have a common structure that includes:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction 
  • Methods/Methods & Materials 
  • Results 
  • Discussion 
  • Conclusion. 

Look for a Methods or Methods and Materials Section as a quick check to see if an article may be primary. Read this section to see if the researchers are talking about their new research.

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