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BIO 120: Adaptation and Biodiversity

This guide will assist BIO 120 students, as well as other biology students, when starting to look for and gather research for papers and assignments.

Recent Research

When scientists have information or an experiment to add to the body of knowledge in their field of study, they usually write up their findings for inclusion in a scientific journal. Before it is published, these articles go through a process of peer review.

In the sciences, a Journal Article is sometimes called a Scientific Article, a Peer-Reviewed Article, or a Scholarly Research Article. Together, journal articles in a particular field are often referred to as The Literature.

Journal articles are most often Primary Research Articles. However, they can also be Review Articles. These types of articles have different aims and requirements. Sometimes, an article describes a new tool or method.

Because articles in scientific journals are specific, meticulously cited and peer-reviewed, journal databases are the best place to look for information on previous research on your species. Without a background in the field, journal articles may be hard to understand - however, you do not need to understand an entire article to be able to get valuable information from it.

Reading a journal article may lead you to a number of other journal articles on closely related topics. When reading a journal article, mark the citations that you are interested in. Later, you can find those articles to continue your search.

What is Peer Review?

Primary Research

laboratory primary research

The most common type of journal article you will find in the sciences deals with primary research. These articles describe an original experiment or analysis that adds to current knowledge a particular topic. These articles will include background information, the methods the scientist used, a description of the results, and an analysis of what the results mean in the context of current knowledge.

Review Articles

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Review articles synthesize current research on a specific topic. Often an article will summarize past research, identify important people in the field, outline recent advances, and point out gaps in a body of knowledge. Review articles are often located in the same journals as primary research articles, but do not report original research.

Review articles are a great resource if you're looking for an overview of a small topic, with complete and current information. Review articles are well-cited, so they can provide a starting point for more extensive research.

The following journals focus solely on review articles: