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Primary Sources: Primary Sources in the Sciences

NCC Libraries guide to finding Primary Source materials.

Primary Sources in the Sciences

Primary sources in biological, health, and natural science fields typically consist of reports/information on original research that is provided by the participating researchers/scientists.  

Examples include:

  • Experiments/experimental data
  • Scientific conference papers/proceedings
  • Technical papers
  • Lab reports

Scientific articles that are original research typically contain the following sections:

1. Abstract: a paragraph in the beginning of the article that summarizes the article

2. Introduction/background: overview or summary of the article, experiment or study, background for why the authors did this research

3. Methods or methodology: how was the experiment/study conducted, who or what was studied, and how many participated

4. Results: what happened as a result of the study, what are the findings

5. Discussion/Conclusion: what did the researchers observe from the experiment or study, is further study needed, did the experiment prove or disprove the hypothesis

6. References: what sources did the researchers use in the article to support their findings

7. Graphs, Charts, Tables are generally found in these types of articles

Example Primary Source in the Sciences

The abstract below is from a research study on sustainable tourism that was published in the Journal of  Environmental Health Science and Engineering.


How to find Scientific Primary Sources in Print

In order to find print articles: 



Finding Scientific Primary Sources in Databases

How to search:

When you're searching the library databases to find scientific primary sources, you want to try specific keywords. You want to take your topic and add words like trial, study, experiment, method(s), methodology, trial group, trial, randomized trial, blind trial. So if you're trying to find a primary source on Diabetes you could search Diabetes and randomized trial. 


Best bet databases: