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Biology: Primary Literature

Biology Research Guide

Primary Scientific Literature vs. Review Articles

Primary scientific literature and scholarly review articles will share similarities and have some differences.  Both will likely be peer-reviewed.  The peer-review process is “designed to assess the validity, quality and often the originality of articles for publication. Its ultimate purpose is to maintain the integrity of science by filtering out invalid or poor quality articles.” (Wiley, The peer-review process may be open, where the reviewers and authors are aware of one another.  Alternatively, the peer-review process may be blind (one party in the process remains anonymous), double-blind (the author and reviewers remain anonymous to one another), or triple-blind (authors, reviewers, and editors remain anonymous to one another).

The differences are greater.  Scientific literature is generally found in peer-reviewed sources.  Scientific primary literature follows a structural format the is fairly standard for reporting findings:

  1. Topical introduction / Hypothesis
  2. Description / Methods / Methodology of the research experiment
  3. Findings / Results (results, analysis
  4. Conclusion /Discussion / Analysis

This structure can also facilitate replication of the research experiment or project.  Review articles may also be peer-reviewed.  However, a review article will compile, summarize and draw conclusions on several research articles, experiments, or projects.