This guide lists electronic and print resources that will be useful for researching topics in the biological and natural sciences.
Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources
Sources are considered primary, secondary, or tertiary depending on the originality of the information presented and their proximity to the source of information.
Primary sources - Browse recommended article databases to find primary source literature on your topic.
- Present the results of original research by an individual or group
- Typically published as research articles within academic journals
- Original scientific research will often include the following sections: Methods, Results, and Discussion/Conclusion
Secondary sources - Browse recommended article databases to find primary source literature on your topic.
- Aim to analyse, evaluate, interpret, and summarize the information reported by researchers in primary source literature (and other secondary source literature)
- Often come in the form of review articles published in academic journals
- Help draw connections between research studies that have previously been published
- Helps the reader understand how the current understanding of a topic has developed over time and identify gaps or inconsistencies that need further exploration
Tertiary sources - Use the Background Information section of this guide to find tertiary sources on your topic.
- Sources that index, abstract, organize, compile, or summarize information found in primary and secondary sources
- Common examples include reference materials, such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, and textbooks