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Pacific Lutheran University

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The Publishing Ecosystem: Scientific Literature in Context

Source: UC Davis LibrariesPrimary sources: documents of direct experience; formal or informal; formal examples usually peer reviewed.

Secondary sources: organize, distil, or review primary sources. Review articles are a type of secondary source that can be very useful for understanding and finding primary sources.

Tertiary sources: discovery tools for primary and secondary sources.

How to identify where your source fits into the ecosystem:

- identify its genre (journal article, patent, review article, etc)

- identify its medium of publication (the journal title, the name of the conference, the book series, etc)

- the content of the resource itself. In particular, how far removed is it from direct observation of its subject?

For examples of primary and secondary sources, see the Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary tab.

Examples of Primary and Secondary Science Articles

How do you tell whether the article you're looking at is primary or secondary? Listed below are examples of primary and secondary journal articles to help you gain understanding of what they look like. Compare the source you've found to these examples.

Primary sources:

Secondary sources:

Tertiary sources: