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RSM 550 - Introduction to Research Methodology: Primary Sources

Primary vs. Secondary Sources in the Sciences: Original Research or Reviews?

Primary sources convey first-hand experience of the event or time period you’re studying.

Secondary sources convey the experiences of others, or “second-hand” information; they often synthesize a collection of primary sources.

In the Sciences:

Primary (Research articles) =

Original scientific research; experiment or study conducted by author; actual rather than interpretive.

  • Clues within the article:
    • Read the abstract.  Look for phrases such as "we tested" or "we measured"
    • Methods section
    • Results section
    • Discussion section
    • Charts, statistical tables, etc.

Secondary (Review articles) =

Compilation, discussion, analysis, or criticism of scientific research by others;analyzes and interprets.

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