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Resources to support research in Biology at DCCC

What Research Do You Need?

Finding an article related to the unit you are studying. Current events are allowed.


Choosing a topic

Suggested Websites for Current Event Articles - list provided by Professor Sandra Devenny

BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation):

Discovery Channel:

MSNBC (Microsoft/National Broadcasting Company):

New York Times:

Philadelphia Inquirer:

Science Daily:

Science News:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

What is Primary Literature?

What is Primary Literature?

Scientists who conduct original research use the primary literature (a.k.a., “scientific journals”) as an avenue to present the results and conclusions of their research to the scientific community and general public. Primary literature is different from publications such as magazines and newspapers in that all articles in a scientific journal are “peer reviewed.” This means that for a researcher to publish an article in a scientific journal, the article must be deemed appropriate by other scientists (typically 3-4) who are experts in the specific area that the article covers. Reviewers judge articles on the basis of their relevance, originality, validity of methods and statistical analyses, and quality of results/conclusions. Depending on the journal, these requirements are often quite stringent. If accepted, the process of publishing articles (from submission to acceptance) in peer-reviewed journals may take several months to a few years.

The format of scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals varies from journal to journal. However, most primary articles in the biological sciences are divided into the following sections: 1) an ABSTRACT, which summarizes the entire article; 2) an INTRODUCTION, which states the relevance of the author’s research to past research and current hypotheses, or other pertinent info; 3) a METHODS section, which outlines what the researchers did (this section typically includes: description of study sites/facilities; the data they collected; how they collected their data; how they analyzed their data; how they intend to test their hypothesis; etc.); 4) a RESULTS section, which summarizes the results of their data collection/experimentation; 5) a CONCLUSIONS and/or DISCUSSION section, which describes the significance of the results they collected; and 6) a LITERATURE CITED section, which cites all of the references (typically all from the primary literature) they cited to support statements they made in the text of their article.

 Description written by DCCC Professor of Biology Dr. Steve Aquilani

Other helpful sites that discuss Primary Literature:

  • The Literature of  Science
    Great information on the difference between primary and secondary literature.

  • Scientific Literature
    A helpful website from the UC-Berkeley library that describes various types of scientific literature from primary to tertiary literature.


Scholarly vs. Popular articles

Scholarly Information from the Web

Google Scholar allows you to search for scholarly articles online.