Primary vs. Secondary Research Articles

Your research should include a mix of primary and secondary resources.

A primary resource is:

  • are original scientific reports of new research findings
  • usually include the following sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, References
  • are peer-reviewed (examined by expert(s) in the field before publication).

You may also choose to use some secondary sources (summaries or interpretations of original research) such as books (find these through the library catalog) or review articles (articles which organize and critically analyze the research of others on a topic). These secondary sources are often useful and easier-to-read summaries of research in an area. Additionally, you can use the listed references to find useful primary research articles.

For more information on primary versus secondary articles, please see the following:

Off-Campus Access to Full-Text

If you're off-campus and want access to full-text, just go through the Library Gateway. You can log in with your netID and password to gain access to our licensed resources.

For anytime, anywhere access from your broswer, download the Passkey toolbar from CUL Labs.

Finding Full-Text of Articles

You want the full text of articles, right? There are several ways to find them.

  • Use the Get it! Cornell links wherever you see them!
  • If you have citations for specific articles: check the Library Catalog to see if we subscribe to the journals that contain the articles. Do a Journal Title search (or a Journal Title Abbreviation search if you're not sure of the full title). The Catalog will show whether or not we have access to the electronic version and/or the print version.
  • If we don't have it, we can get it for you in a few days! Request articles via Interlibrary Loan.

In any event, Reference librarians are here to help you - so please contact us with any questions!


Peer reviewed journals

Hint! Primary research is often published in a peer-reviewed journal. To check if a journal is peer-reviewed/refereed, search the journal by title in Ulrich's Periodical Directory--look for the referee jersey icon. More on peer-reviewed journals from the University of Texas.