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General Zoology Lab (04-115): Levels of literature

Primary literature

A primary, original research article presents scientific information that includes:

1) review of literature only as related to the research question
2) methodology: includes exact materials and techniques used in the research so the study can be replicated.
3) findings: resulting data represented by graphs, tables, statistics
4) discussion: narrative about the data
5) conclusion: recommendations and future studies

The research is current and specialized in peer-reviewed journals, such as the Journal of Zoology.


Learn how to identify primary research articles  (video produced by science librarians at the University of Wisconsin):

Secondary literature

Secondary: Summarizes the primary literature. It is often less current and specialized.

Tiertiary literature

Tiertiary: Broad, topical information useful for background information, understanding and finding key search terms, such as species names.

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