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CHEM 104: A Survey of Organic and Biochemistry: Home

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Select Primary and Secondary Sources

Secondary Sources: an odd example

This video presented by the American Chemistry Society caught my interest for a couple of reasons.

  1. It illustrates how the scientific community was consulted by the entertainment industry so that they could accurately portray the work that a chemistry teacher and/or chemist would do in a lab.  
  2. It illustrates how the medium of television is essentially used as a secondary source to describe complex lab science.  
  3. However the reliability of the information becomes a bit suspect when the DEA is brought into the discussion and they tell the American Chemistry Society that though we value your input into advising on the realistic portrayal of chemistry, we really don't want you to teach people how to make methamphetamine. And therefor some of the information presented is intentionally innaccurate.  

Types of Information Sources

Primary Articles in the Sciences

Definition: Original research published by person(s) who did the study. This literature can include:

  • Report of scientific discoveries
  • Results of experiments
  • Results of clinical trials

Examples of Primary Literature:

  • Published results of research studies in an scholarly journal 
  • Published results of scientific experiments in a report or journal
  • Proceedings of conferences and meetings

Secondary Articles in the Sciences

Definition: Articles that contain commentary on or a discussion about primary sources.

  • Analyzes and interprets research results
  • Analyzes and interprets scientific discoveries

Examples of Secondary Literature:

  • Publications about the significance of research or experiments in a report
  • Review of the results of several experiments or trials in a scholarly journal 
  • News articles in magazines 
  • Science Textbooks

Subject Guide

Jonas Lamb
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Egan Library
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