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BIOL 102: Scientific Information Sources

Scientific literature is generally described as being primary or secondary.

I. Primary sources (the primary literature)
are reports of original findings and ideas.

Primary sources may be print or digital and include:

  1. Peer-reviewed research papers published in scholarly journals and directed toward a scientific audience.

    For example:
  2. Conference presentations
  3. Dissertations
  4. Technical reports

II. Secondary Sources are more general works that are based on primary sources.

Secondary sources may be print or digital and include:

  1. Scholarly books (monographs).

    For example:
    • Giant Pandas: Biology and Conservation - QL737.C214 G524 2004
  2. Review papers that summarize and interpret the primary literature in a particular subject area.

    For example:
    • Recent advances in studies of bird migration. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 22, 357-378, November 1991

  3. Scientific dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference works.

    For example:
  4. Science magazines.

    For example:

Last Updated: 18 March 2011