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Primary research

What is primary research?


What is primary research?
How do I find primary research?
What is secondary literature?


Your professor may ask you to find primary research articles on a topic. These are articles in which the authors present a new set of findings from original research after conducting an experiment. These articles usually contain the following parts:

Methods: This section describes the techniques used to execute the experiment in detail, including the collection of data, and the statistical procedures used. This is usually full of technical jargon, so it can be difficult for non-specialists to read.

A detailed explanation of the method is necessary for two reasons:

(1) other scientists may wish to repeat the experiments to test the findings

(2) the validity of the results depends in part on the techniques and types of analyses used

Results: This section is typically a very technical presentation of the outcome of the experiment. The results are usually described with the aid of tables, statistical tests where appropriate, and figures and diagrams if necessary.

Discussion: This is where the authors interpret their results in light of previous work in the area. Here the authors must convince the reader of the validity and importance of their findings. Sometimes, ideas for future or follow-up research are included.

References cited: The authors must list all the articles they cited within their own article as the last section of the paper. This is an excellent way to find citations to other related articles.

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