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BIOL 112: General Biology II Laboratory

Assignment 3: Reading a Scientific Research Paper

What is a Primary Source?

In the Sciences, primary sources are documents that provide full description of the original research. For example, a primary source would be a journal article where scientists describe their research on rhizosphere bacteria. A secondary source would be an article commenting on or analyzing the scientists' research on rhizosphere bacteria.


Empirical scholarly works such as research articles, conference proceedings, clinical reports, dissertations.

Parts of a Scientific Paper (primary source)

Taken from

Anatomy of a Journal Article

  • Abstract: Provides a summary of the article
  • Introduction: Includes background information and a description of the author's purpose
  • Materials & Methods: Details about how the study was performed with enough detail so that others could repeat the study
  • Results: Includes new observations, data and findings, figures
  • Discussion: A description of what the findings mean and their implications; address potential criticisms


How To Read A Scientific Paper