Skip to Main Content

BIOL 321: Animal Behaviour

What is primary literature?

Primary sources (the primary literature) are reports of original findings and ideas. They may be print or digital and include:

  1. Peer-reviewed research papers published in scholarly journals/periodicals and directed toward a scientific audience. These articles usually have the following sections: Abstract - Introduction - Materials/Methods - Results - Discussion - References. Do not confuse primary articles with review articles. Review articles do not report original research (e.g. do not have Methods or Results sections).

    For example:
  2. Conference presentations
  3. Dissertations (e.g. Queen's Biology graduate and undergraduate theses)
  4. Technical reports

Secondary Sources are more general works that are based on primary sources.  They may be print or digital and include:

  1. Scholarly books (monographs).
          For example, see the More Background Reading titles
  2. Review papers that summarize and interpret the primary literature in a particular subject area.  For example, Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics is a journal that publishes mainly review articles
  3. Scientific dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference works.
  4. Science magazines.  (e.g. New Scientist)