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FYS 100 Tindall: Primary Sources

Primary Sources

Primary Sources in Science

  • a report on the results of an experiment by the person or group who performed it
  • published as scientific articles
  • contain high-level vocabulary
  •  present original data often displayed in tables or charts

In a primary research article, you will typically see many or all of the following elements clearly presented:

  • An abstract/summary of the research about to be presented
  • Author’s affiliation
  • Introduction with thesis statement
  • review of other literature pertaining to the experiment
  • Methods used to conduct the experiment
  • Materials and equipment used in the experiment
  • Results of the experiment (data) - may include tables, charts, graphs, figures, photographs
  • Discussion of the results
  • Conclusion
  • References/Bibliography

The presence of these components indicate that the author is presenting new data and ideas.

Let's take a look at a good example:

Article Link Extraterrestrial Cause for the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction

Look into the author's authority: Luis W. Alvarez

Is the publication Science Magazine any good? 



And an example that is probably reliable, but is not a Primary Source:

Article Link Dino-Killing Asteroid Hit Just the Right Spot to Trigger Extinction

Author: Michelle Z. Donahue

Is the publication National Geographic any good?