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CHEM 5560: Inorganic Chemistry: Primary/Secondary Literature

This guide directs you to library resources to use while researching and writing your term paper in CHEM 5560.

Primary vs. Secondary Literature

In sciences, primary literature consists of articles that report on research studies and are actually written by the researchers. Example: Geng, F., Ma, R., Ebina, Y., Yamauchi, Y., Miyamoto, N., & Sasaki, T. (2014). Gigantic Swelling of Inorganic Layered Materials: A Bridge to Molecularly Thin Two-Dimensional Nanosheets. Journal Of The American Chemical Society,136(14), 5491-5500. doi:10.1021/ja501587y

Tips for identifying primary literature:

  • The word "study" is usually in the article abstract.
  • The article is formatted according to variations on the scientific method - introduction, research questions/hypothesis, methods and materials, results/discussion, conclusions.

Secondary literature consists of articles that give an overview of studies that have been done in a research area. The authors did not do the laboratory research; the articles are based on literature research. Some types of secondary literature are review articles, review journal volumes, and topical journal volumes. Review article example: Klahn, M., & Beweries, T. (2014). Organometallic water splitting - from coordination chemistry to catalysis. Reviews In Inorganic Chemistry34(3), 177-198. doi:10.1515/revic-2013-0019

Secondary literature is a good place to start your research. You can find out about the trends in a research area and use the bibliographies to find primary literature in the area.

Tips for identifying secondary literature:

  • The words "review," "trends," or "history" frequently appear in the article abstract or title.
  • The article comes from a journal with "Reviews" in its title.

Sources for Primary and Secondary Literature

Primary literature can be located using journal article databases, such as SciFinder Scholar or Web of Science. The majority of articles in a database are usually research studies, so you don't have to do anything special to find them.

Secondary literature can also be located using journal article databases. When searching in a database, add the word "review" to the search terms to find review articles.

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