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Biology: Find Articles

Differences Between Primay and Secondary Sources

For some research projects, it is important (or you may be required) to use primary sources, instead of or in addition to secondary sources. So what's the difference?

Primary sources

"A primary source is an original object or document -- the raw material or first-hand information."

"primary sources are often empirical studies -- research where an experiment was done or a direct observation was made. The results of empirical studies are typically found in scholarly articles or papers delivered at conferences,..."

'Primary research articles can be identified by a commonly used format. Look for sections titled Methods (sometimes with variations, such as Materials and Methods), Results (usually followed with charts and statistical tables), and Discussion. Since a review of the literature is part of the research process, the article will also include bibliographic citations and a Works Cited section at the end."

Secondary sources

"A secondary source is something written about a primary source."

"Secondary source materials can be articles in newspapers or popular magazines, book or movie reviews, or articles found in scholarly journals that discuss or evaluate someone else's original research."

Bridget Bower & John Henderson, http://www.ithacalibrary.com/sp/subjects/primary

Research Tips

Finding Additional Resources

  • The first thing to do when your research seems to dry up is to check the bibliographies of the books or the references of the journal article's you already have. Sometimes bibliographies/references are like gold mines of information.
  • Simply type the entire title of the Book or Journal into the library catalog (http://famu.catalog.fcla.edu/am.jsp). The search will either lead you to the physical book/journal location in the library or it will direct you to online source.