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Types of sources
- Researchers report first-hand about their new research
- These are direct accounts of an event, experiment, study, etc. that the researcher experienced
- Includes some journal articles and some books (monographs)
- Authors summarize, analyze or report the work of other researchers
- No new research results are presented
- Includes review articles, systematic reviews, news articles, and some books
- Authors summarize the well known and accepted information on a subject
- Includes textbooks, encyclopedias, websites, etc.
Identifying primary sources in the sciences
Typically, primary journal articles will have a common structure that includes:
- Methods/Methods & Materials
Secondary/review articles frequently contain many of the same sections but will not have a Methods or Methods & Materials section. If they do, they will discuss how the articles to be reviewed were found and selected.
Look for a Methods or Methods and Materials Section as a quick check to see if an article may be primary. Read this section to see if the researchers are talking about their new research.
Primary sources in the arts and humanities
- Unpublished materials
- May include lab notebooks, blogs, pre-prints, reports from government agencies, conference presentations, etc.