Science Information Resources

Finding Primary Research Articles in Science

Glossary of Terms:

Primary Research Articles in Science - Articles from Scholarly Science Journals that report on original research. The articles are written by the researchers themselves, and include an introduction that outlines a problem, a description of the methods used to study the problem, a description of the results - including what the study found out, as well as a discussion about the implications of the study's findings. The researchers' sources are fully cited in bibliographies.

Secondary Sources - Articles, books, etc., which describe or analyze information from one or more primary sources. These can help you understand and interpret your topic, and these are also good for helping you discover a topic to write about. Scientific review articles published in journals, and articles published in Trade or Professional Journals and in Magazines are usually secondary sources.

Tertiary Sources - A step further removed - these are usually reference sources, such as dictionaries and encyclopedias, and are good for gaining background understanding.

Scholarly Journals - These are published periodically and contain articles that report on original research, experiments, or ideas in a specific field of discipline. They often have the word "journal" in the title. These journals are often "peer reviewed", meaning a panel of subject experts in the field have reviewed the articles for quality before allowing them to be published. There are usually few advertisements, if any, and few photos or illustrations. Example: The Journal of Experimental Biology, Journal of the American Medical Association

Trade or Professional Journals - these contain mostly secondary source articles that report on issues, problems, and other items of interest to a particular field. These also may the word "journal" in the title. The authors are typically experts in a field, but not the researchers themselves. These are often printed on glossy paper and can contain photos, artwork, and trade-specific advertisements. Examples: Practicing Anthropology, Astronomy

Magazines - Publications with a broad or general interest focus. Articles are usually written by staff writers who may or may not have a background in the topics they write about. In Magazines, there are usually many advertisements, photos, artwork, sidebars, and even cartoons. Examples: Discover, Popular Science

Click here for a chart that compares these and other types of periodicals.

Primary Research Articles may be found:

In online subscription journal databases, such as:

Science Direct (From off campus, login with your UH ID number)

EBSCO Databases (From off campus, login with your UH ID number)

Including Academic Search Premier, AGRICOLA, MEDLINE, etc.

On the Internet. Click here for insight into the reality of using the Web for finding good research material. You can use targeted resources such as:

Scientific Commons

NEC CiteSeer


BIOLINE International




Google Scholar

Ebooks from National Academies Press

In University Libraries - such as UH Manoa, where you can access full text article databases and indexes such as:

American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) Technical Library
Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts
Biological Abstracts
JSTOR Biological Sciences Collection
Oceanic Abstracts
Web of Science
Wiley InterScience
Zoological Record Plus

Citing in CBE Style

Citation Builder - This has a fill-in-the-blank form to create reference list citations in the "name-year" system.

Sciences: documenting sources - From the book Research & Documentation Online by Diana Hacker. You may find the "CBE in-text citations" and the "CBE reference list" sections particularly useful.

CBE Style from Monroe's "The New Guide to Writing Research Papers." This gives examples of reference list citations in the name-year system.

Compiled by Tara Severns. Updated 12/03/07