Skip to main content

Introductory Microbiology: 3100:331: Primary Literature

Dr. Barton, Fall Semester 2017

Primary Research Articles vs. Review Articles - EXAMPLES

Look for the IMRaD elements in Peer-Reviewed Articles

Primary research articles (also called empirical/clinical studies or research articles) contain firsthand information or original data on a topic that is not interpreted, evaluated, or analyzed.  These articles also include components or a variation of these components: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion (known as the IMRaD format). Primary research articles are usually peer-reviewed (i.e. article was critically evaluated evaluated by experts in the field before accepted for publication).

Primary Literature Defined

Primary Literature (sometimes called primary research articles, original research article, primary sources)

  1. It is where the researcher published their findings first (i.e. the primary place the data is found).
  2. In science, it's usually a journal article having the IMRaD sections.  IMRaD stands for Introduction, Methodology, Results, and Discussion.
  3. It will always have a Literature Cited/References/Works Cited section.
  4. It is the researcher's own words, not summarized by anyone else.
  5. It is found in scholarly journals such as Cell, Journal of Geology.
  6. The article will be peer-reviewed (refereed by other experts in the field before publication).

Secondary Articles (sometimes called secondary sources)

  • Summarize primary literature articles
  • Help to get a general overview of a topic
  • Written by authorities in the field
  • One type of secondary sources are review articles, which summarize information that has already been published.  VERY IMPORTANT: While review articles may be peer-reviewed and can serve as excellent resources, they are not considered primary literature.