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University of Portland Clark Library

CHM 105: Chemistry in Art: Articles

Primary Articles vs. Secondary Articles

In the sciences, primary sources are often journal articles that describe a research study and its results.

Journal Article Characteristics:

Audience Scholars, researchers, professors, students.
Author Professionals, experts in the field. Credentials are listed in the article.
Content Original research.
Length Usually lengthy, often 10-25 pages long.
Citations Cited sources are typically scholarly ones. 
Refereed Yes; Articles go through a peer-review process where they are critiqued
by other experts in the field before they are published.
Example This is an example of a primary article.

Secondary sources describe or review research conducted by someone else. These include a type of journal article called a review article. 

Review Article Characteristics:

Audience Scholars, researchers, professors, students.
Author Professionals, experts in the field. Credentials or affiliations are listed.
Content Discusses a range of studies and puts them in context.
Length Usually lengthy, 20 - 40 pages long.
Citations An extensive list of sources are cited.
Refereed No. Will be reviewed by journal editors, but not peer reviewed.
Example: This is an example of a secondary journal article.

The popular press is another example of a type of secondary source that most of us encounter on a daily basis.

Newspaper / Magazine Article Characteristics:

Audience General readers.
Author Varies, but typically journalists, staff writers, 'guest' experts. May not be signed.
Content Non-technical, entertainment, news. May report on original research (such as breaking medical research).
Length Usually short, 1-5 pages.
Citations No, incomplete, or very few citations.
Refereed No
Example: This is an example of a secondary article.

Search Tools for Finding Articles

Journal Article Databases

Newspaper Article Databases

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