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Primary Sources: Scientific Research

Finding and making use of primary sources

What is a Scientific Primary Source?

In the sciences, a Primary Source is the original publication of new research, data or theories by the person(s) who conducted the research or formulated the theory.

Primary Sources are typically published in Scholarly Journals, accessible through library databases like Academic Search Premier (EBSCO). They are often characterized by standardized sections - you can remember them with the acronym AIMRAD.


A - Abstract (short summary of article)

I - Introduction (gives overview of topic)

M - Methods/Materials (explains the study/experiment and sometimes materials used)

R - Results (findings of the study/experiment)

A - And

D - Discussion (what the findings mean and what else remains to be known)

They will also have a long list of References (the sources the authors used) at the end. Sometimes the sections might be combined, named differently, or unnamed, so if you aren't sure if what you have is a Primary Source email Haley or Ask a Librarian.

Scientific Primary Source Tutorial

Finding Scholarly Articles

1. Go to the library website,

2. Click on Articles and Databases

3. Choose Academic Search Premier (if you are off-campus, you will be prompted to log in)

4. Create your search using keywords and limiters:

screenshot of starting a search in a database


5. Review your results list. Eliminate Review and Opinion articles. Read abstracts to determine if articles are original research studies. Email articles to yourself as appropriate.

screenshot of search results in a database


Detailed article view:

screenshot of article citation information