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BIOL A108 (Principles and Methods in Biology)

What is Scientific Literature?

Scientific literature comprises scholarly publications that report on research, observed, experienced or theoretical, in the natural and social sciences.

Parts of a Scientific Paper

For the most part, a typical peer-reviewed scientific paper includes the following sections:

1.   Title

  • subject of the paper and what was studied

2.    Abstract

  • brief summary, including the reason for the study, the primary results, and the main conclusions

3.   Introduction

  • general background, and sometimes a brief literature review; why the study was done

4.   Methods and Materials

  • how the study was performed, including techniques and equipment, so that it can be replicated by others

5.   Results

  • what happened during the study

6.   Discussion

  • what the results mean and why they are significant

7.   Conclusion

  • summary of the results; may include reasons why further research is needed

8.   List of References (or Bibliography)

  • provides documentation of the sources consulted for the study



Popular vs Scholarly Sources

What is a 'Peer Reviewed' or 'Refereed' article?

Peer Review: The process in which the author of an article submits his/her work for an impartial opinion from experts in the field (i.e., peers or referees, usually on the editorial board of the publication) who determine if the subject of the article falls within the scope of the publication. This group of peers evaluates the work for originality, clarity, and quality of research.

   From Harrod's Librarians' Glossary, 8th ed (1995) and Dictionary for Library and Information Science, Libraries Unlimited (2004).

Helpful Tip! Remember: all peer-reviewed articles are scholarly, but not all scholarly articles are peer-reviewed.