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BMB 445W: Laboratory in Molecular Genetics I

How to Read & Use Scholarly Scientific Articles

Intimidated and frustrated by that 15 page scientific article?  Use the links below to learn how to navigate scientific journal articles.

Primary Research Articles vs. Review Articles - How can I tell the difference?

Differentiating between original research articles and review articles can be a bit tricky.  Both types of articles are considered "scholarly" and appear in peer reviewed journals.  However, it is an essential skill in the sciences to be able to differentiate between the two types of articles.  Below is information to assist you in determining what type of resource you are viewing. 

 

Characteristics

Examples

Research Article                                                                                                                   

Author(s) present new set of findings from original research after conducting an original experiment.

Typically contains the following distinct sections:

  • Methods (possibly the variation Methods & Materials)
  • Results (including charts, graphs, and statistical tables)
  • Discussion
Taylor TJ, Knipe DM.  2004.  Proteomics of herpes simplex virus replication compartments: association of cellular DNA replication, repair, recombination, and chromatin remodeling proteins with ICP8.  J Virol. [accessed 2017 Jan 6]; 78(11): 5856-5866.  http://jvi.asm.org/content/78/11/5856.full.pdf+html

Review Article

Author(s) analyze and summarize existing research.

Often focus on a general topic and bring together all relevant, useful articles on that topic in one article.

Do not contain sections such as Methods or Results because they did not conduct original research.

References within a review article can help you locate primary research articles on a topic!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Schmid M, Speiseder T., Dobner T, Gonzalez RA.  2014.  DNA virus replication compartments.  J Virol.  [accessed 2017 Jan 6]; 88(3):  1404-1420.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.02046-13