Most literature in scientific databases/journals will be primary sources. However make sure to avoid meta-analyses, systematic reviews, or literature reviews - these are secondary sources. Primary sources are original materials/information on which other research is based. Primary source documents focus on original research, ideas, or findings published in academic journals. These items mark the first publication of such research; and they detail the researcher’s methodology and results. They may also be referred to as primary research, primary articles, or research studies. They are frequently found in peer-reviewed or scholarly journals and should explain the research methodology used (randomized controlled trial, etc). STEM primary sources are factual, not interpretive.
Examples: Journal articles of original research, conference papers, dissertations, technical reports, and patents. Primary sources are also sets of data, such as health statistics, which have been tabulated, but not interpreted. Plant or mineral samples and other artifacts are primary sources as well.
- From the library homepage
- Click the Articles tab
- Within the search box type keywords describing your topic in the search box case study, quantitative, longitude
- From the search results page, filter your results by “peer reviewed” which limits your results to scholarly journal articles
DO NOT include meta-analyses, systematic reviews, or literature reviews - these are secondary sources
Secondary sources analyses, evaluates, interprets, re-packages, summarizes or reorganizes information reported by researchers in the primary literature. Secondary sources are critiques, descriptions or reviews of original works. This includes critiques of play, review articles that discuss somebody else's original research, etc. Secondary sources are written by someone other than the author of the original work. Any published or unpublished work that is one step removed from the original source, usually describing, summarizing, analyzing, evaluating, derived from, or based on primary source materials, for example, a review, critical analysis, second-person account, or biographical or historical study. Also refers to material other than primary sources used in the preparation of a written work. These include:
- Review Journals: These generally start with Annual Review of …, Advances in …, Current Opinion in …
- Article Reviews: Articles that summarize the current literature on a specific topic
- Textbooks: These can be either specialized to a narrow topic or a boarder overview
Tertiary sources consist of primary and secondary source information which has been collected and distilled. They present summaries of or an introduction to the current state of research on a topic, summarize or condense information from primary and secondary sources, or provide a list of primary and secondary sources of more extensive information.These are sources that index, abstract, organize, compile, or digest other sources. Some reference materials and textbooks are considered tertiary sources when their chief purpose is to list, summarize or simply repackage ideas or other information. Tertiary sources are usually not credited to a particular author.
Dictionaries/encyclopedias (may also be secondary), almanacs, fact books, Wikipedia, bibliographies (may also be secondary), directories, guidebooks, manuals, handbooks, and textbooks (may be secondary), indexing and abstracting sources.