In this section we'll see the difference between primary and secondary literature, what type of information may be found in each and which resources to use to find this type of literature.
In biochemistry, the primary literature reports on experimental results and almost always appears in scholarly journals.
Identifying a primary article is fairly easy, in addition to article reporting on the results of an experiment, the format of the article follows the typical pattern of most of the scientific literature. The article will contain, in this order:
Examples of primary biochemical literature; note that each is reporting on an experiment and each is outlined as described above:
To find the primary literature, use the "Literature Indexes" page listed under Section 4: Resources.
The term "secondary literature" refers to a variety of document types. For the purposes of this course, we'll define secondary literature as documents that contain commentary about, or analysis of, the primary literature or documents that summarize the knowledge of a specific topic. The secondary literature does not present new knowledge, instead it takes existing knowledge (aka the primary literature), determines the relationships and reworks the information into a single, cohesive and understandable document.
Examples of secondary literature includes encyclopedia articles, handbooks and scholarly review articles:
Click on the titles of the following references to view the full text. Answer the following questions about each article:
Move on to Section 4: Resources