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CHE430: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources

Advanced Instrumental Chemistry

Primary Sources in the Sciences

Primary sources (or primary research) in the sciences are original research studies usually found in published articles that include hypotheses, experiments, analyses, data, and a conclusion. Primary research can be found in all scientific fields, including chemistry.

Scientific research articles are usually very specific and geared toward professionals in the field.

Examples of Primary Research:

  • Patents
  • Original research articles
  • Conference papers
  • Technical papers
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Lab notebooks

Databases to search for Primary Scientific Research:

Dryad: The Dryad Digital Repository is a curated resource that makes the data underlying scientific publications discoverable, freely reusable, and citable. Dryad provides a general-purpose home for a wide diversity of datatypes.

SciFinder Scholar: SciFinder provides access to the world's most comprehensive and authoritative source of references, substances and reactions in chemistry and related sciences. You need to set up an account for access. To establish your account, login through Esearch first. You will need to use this user name and password to access this source both on-campus and off-campus.

ScienceDirect: Access to a comprehensive collection of scientific, technical and medical literature. Contains over 2000+ peer-reviewed full-text journals within three broad subject classifications 1. Social & Behavioral Sciences 2. Physical Sciences 3. Health & Life Sciences. Science Direct clearly indicates "Original Research Article" next to each citation.

Secondary Sources in the Sciences

Secondary Sources reveal theories, trends, comparisons of thought, and other general overviews of a discipline, and specific topics within a discipline. They generally provide interpretation and analysis of primary sources.

These sources include:

  • Books
  • Reviews
  • Textbooks
  • Websites
  • Magazine and Newspaper articles

Tertiary Sources in the Sciences

Tertiary Sources condense and collect information from primary and secondary sources.

Examples of Tertiary Sources include:

  • Handbooks
  • Encyclopedias
  • Compilations
  • Dictionaries
  • Tables
  • Indexes, abstracts, bibliographies used to locate primary and secondary sources
  • Manuals
  • Bibliographies