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ENSC 201: The Research Cycle: Primary and Secondary Information

Scientific literature is generally described as being primary or secondary.

Primary sources are reports of original findings and ideas. They may be print or digital, and include:

Secondary sources are more general works that are based on primary sources. They may be print or digital, and include:
  1. Peer-reviewed research papers published in scholarly journals/periodicals and directed toward a scientific audience
  2. Dissertations
  3. Conference proceedings
  4. Technical Reports
  1. Review papers that summarize and interpret the primary literature in a particular subject area
  2. Scholarly books (monographs)
  3. Scientific dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks and manuals
  4. Science magazines


The Research Cycle outlined below shows the process by which research publications are produced:

Last Updated: 13 August 2009