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University of Wyoming - Libraries

Biological Sciences: Primary Sources

Guide to biological science library resources

Primary Sources in the Sciences

Primary source documents in the Sciences (biology, ecology, chemistry) focus on original research, ideas, or findings published in academic journals. These articles mark the first publication of such research; and they detail the researcher’s methodology and results. Plant or mineral samples and other artifacts are primary sources as well.

 Primary Vs. Secondary Sources


Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

Scholarly and Academic journal articles found in library databases      
Freely available on the Web or databases
Highly Technical Language written for experts in the field Non-technical language, including frequent definitions, written for the non-expert
Publication will not have photos, but may have charts & graphs Publication may have photos and ads
Written by the scholars who conducted the research.  Usually introduces new data, information or theories. Explains a primary research study

Article should include these sections:

  • abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods, materials or experiment
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References

Expansive - 6-8 pages or can be up to 40 pages in length Usually shorter in length   

Source: Edmonds Community College Library, Scientific Primary Sources Tutorial

Scientific Primary Sources

Watch this video from Edmonds Community College Library to learn how to identify the difference between scientific primary and secondary sources and where to find them.

Useful Databases for Findng Primary & Secondary Sources