Primary Literature Overview Bio14


Definition

Primary literature presents results of original research in formats such as articles, pre-publication prints of articles, and conference proceedings. Of the sources in this category, you are most likely to find and use journal articles, whether traditional paper journals or those you will find online.

When you see the word "article," don't assume that you will be consulting Time or Rolling Stone to find primary materials. True, those publications carry many articles, but the type you want will be found in scholarly and academic journals like Nature and the Journal of Experimental Biology. These articles contain original data and have been "peer-reviewed" by scientists familiar with the area being researched.

Why Use Primary Literature?

Use journal articles to learn the latest results of fairly specific scientific studies. Journal articles will also acquaint you with the names of scientists working in particular areas and lead you to related articles cited in the bibliography. The information you'll find in primary literature is more focused than that found in secondary literature.

How to Locate Primary Literature

The most efficient way to find primary literature is by using indexes and databases, many of which are listed in the sources list. These allow you to search journal literature by author, subjects, or keywords and find citations to relevant articles. A citation includes the author and title of an article, the title of the periodical in which it was published, page numbers, date of publication, and other information. Some citations provide abstracts (summaries) of the cited article. The citation gives you all the information you need to find the journal that contains the article in the Tisch Library.

Tisch Library Holdings

To see if Tufts subscribes to to the journals you're looking for, search the Tufts Catalog by the name of the journal. If Tufts does not subscribe, you can order a copy of the article through document delivery.

Fulltext Primary Literature Online

The Tisch Library subscribes to many databases that offer the full text of articles online. These databases include BIOSIS, Cambridge Scientific Abstracts, JSTOR, Expanded Academic ASAP, Science Direct, and Science Citation Index. For more information on using these databases please go to Primary Literature Strategies. Another way to find full text articles is Tufts E-Journal Titles, a searchable index to all of the electronic journals subscribed to by Tufts' Libraries.

Continue to Selected Primary Literature Databases.