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BIO 50 - Anatomy & Physiology (Waters): How to Identify Primary Research Articles

A research guide to support students in Professor Waters' BIO 50- Anatomy & Physiology course.

Primary Scientific Research Article

  • Primary research articles are written by the scientists who are reporting on their own original research/experiment in order to communicate their discoveries or findings to other scientists.
  • Articles follow a specific structure and contain several main elements:
    • abstract
    • introduction
    • methods and materials
    • results
    • conclusion/discussion
    • bibliography or references for all sources cited

Literature Reviews

  • Literature review or review articles summarize a particular topic and provide an overview of the current understanding of that topic. 
  • While it will not count as a primary research article, they are still very useful to students as they learn about the broader scope of their research area. 
  • The articles will cite notable studies and making connections between those studies.
  • Often review articles look very similar to research articles but one key difference is that the methodology or methods and materials section will be missing from a review article.

Peer Reviewed Scientific Journal

  • Scholarly journals publish articles in a particular area of study. 
  • The articles are written by researchers sharing their original research with other scholars in their field. 
  • They are usually published by science organizations or university presses. 
  • Most scholarly journals are peer-reviewed, which refers to the policy of having experts in the same field examine the articles prior to acceptance for publication.  The formal peer review or refereed process ensures that research being reported is of the highest quality following standard research practices. 
  • Examples of scholarly peer-reviewed journals:
    • Nature
    • Bioscience
    • The New England Journal of Medicine.
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