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CHEM: Chyan lab

Library instruction for students in Dr. Oliver Chyan's lab.

Sources for Science Research

Reference Sources, such as encyclopedias, handbooks and dictionaries, are a good place to start your research because they provide:

  • background on a topic 
  • historical research
  • potential keywords for your catalog and database searches

Books in both print and electronic format provide:

  • in-depth coverage of a topic, broad in scope and usually historical
  • information that is two to three years old by the publication date
  • indexes where you can check if the book contains your topic

Articles in both print and electronic format provide: 

  • the most current source of peer-reviewed information
  • focused research, narrow in scope
  • literature reviews
  • Note: you must use multiple databases to find articles because no one database covers all journals

Websites must be evaluated for credibility, authority and accuracy before using and provide:

  • the most current information on a topic (but not necessarily peer-reviewed)
  • obscure, hard-to-find information

Primary versus Secondary Articles

In science, a primary article is basically what we call an empirical or research paper. It is primary because the person or group who did the research wrote the paper.

A secondary article in science is called a review paper. The author reviews the research a number of scientists have done in a particular area of  the field.

You can locate a primary article by adding [study] to your search terms. This word almost appears in the abstract.

You can locate a secondary article by adding [review] to your search terms. This word almost always appears in the abstract of a secondary article.

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