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University of Portland Clark Library

BIO 277: Introductory Cell Biology and Genetics Lab: Reading Articles

Reading Journal Articles

Understanding Journal Articles - Fill in the Gaps

What is Peer Review?

Primary or Secondary?

Both primary and secondary sources can be useful to you in your research, but you need to be able to distinguish which is which. Both types of information sources can be found using library databases, and both may even be peer-reviewed sources. So how do you tell which is which? Refer to the table below for some quick ways to determine if the source you've found is a primary source or a secondary source.

Primary and Secondary Sources: What's the difference?
Primary Sources Secondary Sources
Original analysis
Discuss research done by others
Articles and papers by the researcher(s) presenting data and research findings
News, magazine articles, books, and review articles explaining, analyzing, or commenting on research
Describe methodology and findings
Published AFTER primary sources (“second”)
Often use a lot of scientific terminology and jargon and assume familiarity with the subject
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