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CHEM 2251: Quantitative and Instrumental Analysis: Primary/Secondary

Scholarly Articles

Scholarly Articles can usually be broken down into two types of artciles : Original Research Articles or Review Articles.  For more information on these articles, please see the boxes below.

Original Research Articles (Primary Sources)

To be considered a primary source in the sciences, an article must convey original research findings made by the scientists who wrote the article. As such, the articles tend to be narrow in focus and perhaps difficult to read unless you are an expert in the specific subject area of the research.

Traits of primary (original) research articles 
Some common traits include the following:

  • Discusses experiments or modeling the researchers conducted themselves
  • Has sections like 'materials, methods, results, and conclusion/discussion/analysis'
  • Includes charts, diagrams, tables, and data sets of original data
  • Has a lengthy reference list
  • Has a title that describes experiment/findings
  • Authored by a team of scientists with expert credentials

Primary sources are important because they are the original source of new knowledge. Primary source articles are often cited or referred to in other articles -- sometimes in a secondary source or sometimes in other original articles.

In the Science Direct database, articles are labeled 'original research' or 'review'.  Here's an example:

Review Articles (Secondary Sources)

There are some journal titles devoted to review articles: 

Traits of review (secondary) research articles:

  • Review original research articles on a specific topic
  • discuss/analyze research by different scientists on a topic
  • Usually have "review" in the title or abstract

Accounts of Chemical Research -- Accounts of Chemical Research presents short, concise and critical articles offering easy-to-read overviews of basic research and applications in all areas of chemistry and biochemistry.

Chemical Reviews -- Chemical Reviews presents authoritative, critical, and readable reviews of important recent research in organic, inorganic, physical, analytical, theoretical, and biological chemistry

In the Science Direct database, articles are labeled 'original research' or 'review'.  Here's an example:

Identifying Primary and Secondary Sources

The databases listed below are great places to start your research.