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BIOL 208 - Tonga - Longview

This guide was designed to assist students in BIOL 208 with general study and with the Organism Presentation and related research.

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Primary vs. Secondary Sources - Guide

For BIOL 208, you will need to locate BOTH Primary and Secondary scientific sources for your research. What is the difference?

Primary Source Secondary Source
Definition Primary account of original findings written by the researcher(s); very specific information, with the goal of scholarly communication. Secondary discussion of someone else's research; general information; news,  purpose is to entertain or inform.
Format Conference papers, a study reported in a journal article, a survey reported in a journal article. Magazine articles, web articles or fact sheets, books.
Scientists studying bird flu.
Article in scholarly journal reporting research and methodology. Article in Time magazine summarizing new research. Summary of research finding reported on CDC website.


Finding Scholarly Articles - Databases

Make sure to LIMIT your results to include ONLY scholarly journals.

Limit by checking "Scholarly or Peer Reviewed" box.

Most databases that have access to scholarly journals will give you this option.

If you do not LIMIT your results, you are likely to also retrieve non-scholarly sources, such as newspaper and magazine articles.

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources - Guide

What is the difference between popular and scholarly articles?

Popular Articles (Magazines)

  • You could buy in a grocery store.
  • Often report current events or SUMMARIZE research.
  • Use language easily understood by general readers.
  • Sources may be quoted, but rarely give bibliographies or full references.
  • Written for general public.
  • Tend to be shorter than journal articles.

Examples of Popular Magazines:


Scholarly Articles (Journals)

  • Are written by scholars, researchers, faculty, and academics within a chosen field.
  • Use scholarly or technical language.
  • Are research based – contain a methodology used to conduct the research and the results of the research.
  • Are often REFEREED or PEER REVIEWED (it has gone through a process of review by a panel of experts in that specific field of study).
  • Contain full citations and a list of references for sources.
  • Book reviews and editorials are not considered scholarly articles, even when found in scholarly journals.

Examples of Scholarly Journals:

Some points to remember:

  • Both magazines and journal articles can be good sources for your work.
  • If you want background information on a topic new to you, use magazines.
  • If you are required to cite scholarly sources, use journals.
  • Often a combination of the two will be most appropriate for undergraduate research.