What's a primary source in the sciences?
Primary sources in the sciences (and many social sciences), report original research, ideas, or scientific discoveries for the first time. Primary sources in the sciences may also be referred to as primary research, primary articles, or research studies. Examples include research studies, scientific experiments, papers and proceedings from scientific conferences or meetings, dissertations and theses, and technical reports.
The following are some characteristics of scientific primary sources:
How do I find primary sources in the sciences?
A good place to start your search is in a subject-specific database. Many of these databases include options to narrow your search by source type. Not sure which database to use? Check out our Database A-Z List (use the dropdown menu to filter by subject).
Information adapted from Binghamton University Library
When searching for biomedical literature, you will find two types of articles: primary and secondary. Primary sources include articles that describe original research. Secondary sources analyze and interpret primary research.
|Original source of research or new discoveries.||Original research article published in a peer reviewed journal|
|Results of scientific activities and raw data||
|Methods section for other scientists to replicate study||Technical reports|
|Summarizes and synthesizes primary literature||Literature review or review articles|
|Might be broader or less current than primary literature||Books|
|Do not provide new data or research||
Adapted from Regis University Library