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Biology 4060 Exploring Animal Behavior: Kim Sullivan: FAQ

Sources to find scholarly publications and notes about using the USU Library [BIOL|4060]

Reading the Scientific Literature

Reading a scientific paper isn't like reading a book.  Hint:  Don't try to read it straight through from beginning to end!

Here are some tips to help you become skilled:

How to Read a Scientific Paper - Infographic from Elsevier

How to Read a Scientific Article by Mary Purugganan, Ph.D. and Jan Hewitt, Ph.D., Cain Project in Engineering and Professional Communication at Rice University

How to Read a Scientific Paper - Minimally modified from John W. Little and Roy Parker at the University of Arizona (which is no longer retrievable).  This version is from a Biology course from by taught by Professor Devoto Fall 2011 at Wesleyan University.

How to read and understand a scientific paper: a guide for non-scientists

Primary vs. Secondary Research

In addition to distinguishing between popular and scholarly articles, you need to be able to understand if the scholarly articles you are reading are reporting primary research or secondary research.

Primary research articles report original research and results.  You will see the data and work that the authors produced. A primary source is an article that reports this.  Other primary sources can include documents such as diaries and scrapbooks, photographs, and eyewitness accounts.

Secondary research often summarizes the work of many primary research studies.  In the sciences, a common example of this is a review article.  Review articles report and analyze the results of primary research articles, but don't report any new information.