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Science Information Cycle: Primary v. Secondary


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Primary Sources v. Secondary Sources

For a more in depth understanding of primary, secondary and tertiary sources, please review this part of the Begin Research tutorial.

Primary sources in the sciences tend to be a little different than in other disciplines.

A primary source in the sciences is the first report of reproducible results and methods written by the scientist who conducted the research. Characteristics of primary sources in the sciences:

  • Share new discoveries, original results, novel research
  • Report is made by the scientist(s) who conducted the research.
  • Contains sufficient information for other scientists to evaluate and reproduce results.

Note: Primary science research articles will still contain a literature review section that summarizes others’ research. This is an important part of establishing the novelty and credibility of the new research.

A secondary source in the sciences does NOT contain any new results found or produced by the author. Examples include a news report about a new discovery or an article that comprehensively reviews all research on a topic.

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