Scientific knowledge is furthered through the publication of the results of original research projects. These publications, the scientists' own reporting of their original research, are known as primary literature. Since a primary article is the report of a given study, it will include the objective of the research, the methods used, the data and results obtained, a discussion of the results and a list of references to the literature used in the design and analysis of the research.
These publications are found in journals, government and other institutions' research reports, and occasionally in books.
It is important to read primary literature because it provides details of how the research was conducted, includes the data that were collected, and outlines the researcher's own interpretation of the work. Because the methodology of the study is described, a primary literature paper gives readers the opportunity to repeat the study or a variation of it. It also enables one to argue with the conclusions of the study since the data is there for all to consider.
Most scientific journals require a structured abstract as part of the publication which summarizes the content for a quick preview by those searching for literature.
Generally, the structured abstract will include the following headings:
There are variations of the headings which are descriptive of the subject material, such as:
Some additional headings include:
Main Outcome Measures
What does a structured abstract look like?
Here is an example of a structured abstract, which allows for rapid content comprehension when searching for relevant research articles. (This is also an example of a primary literature source.)
a research paper is accepted for publication in the scientific
literature, it is subjected to the "peer review" process.
that the publisher sends a copy of the submitted paper to one or more
scientists working in the same field. These peer scientists read the
paper and assess the quality of the research and the paper describing
They look at such factors as whether or not the design of the
experiment was appropriate for the hypothesis being tested, whether
sufficient data were collected, and whether the conclusions follow
logically from the results of the experiment.
They also consider whether
the overall topic was of sufficient importance and interest to warrant