How to Identify a Primary Research Article

What makes a primary research article any different from a regular scholarly article?

Unlike other scholarly articles, which tend to assemble and summarise various pieces of scholarly literature, a primary research article reports on a specific experiment that’s been conducted by a researcher either in a lab or in the field.

To see if you have a primary research article, skim through the article and look for the following:

  1. Abstract
  2. Introduction
  3. Methods / Materials:  primary research articles should include a methods section, a description of the subjects, procedures and tools used.  A methods section is the most obvious indicator that what you have is a primary research article.
  4. Results / Discussion / Findings
  5. Conclusion / Concluding Remarks
  6. References / Works Cited / Bibliography: all primary research articles should come from a scholarly journal. As such, these articles will always include a bibliography, works cited, or references list.

Search for these articles in our databases*.

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