Booth Library
Eastern Illinois University
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BIO 1150 :: Biology Forum

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Types of information sources
There are a multitude of ways that information is presented to us. Here are some types of information media:

- news websites
- blogs
- social media
- magazines
- books
- encyclopedias
- Wikipedia
Types of scientific sources
In the sciences, information comes in many formats. These are a few of the more common types:

- journal articles
- monographs (scholarly books)
- technical reports
- field guides
- conference proceedings
- government documents
- data and statistics
Scholarly vs. popular articles
How do you know whether you are reading a scholarly journal article or a popular magazine article? Check out these identifying characteristics:

Peer review
Scholarly journal articles go through a peer review editing process. What is peer review? See the cartoon and NEIU Library video below.


Image courtesy of the University of California Museum of Paleontology -
Understanding Science - www.understandingscience.org. Used with permission.


Primary research articles vs. Review articles
For our purposes, there are two main types of scientific scholarly journal articles: primary research articles and review articles.

Primary research articles are also referred to as original research articles. In these articles, the authors present their own original research. These articles include sections for Materials and Methods, Results, and Discussion. In these papers, the authors might indicate that "We found..." or "Our results show..."

For example, see primary research articles on the topic of cell polarity in yeast, from the Public Library of Science (PLoS) database.

Review articles summarize the published research on a given topic. These articles will highlight "classic articles" that have contributed greatly to the study of this topic, as well as more current research. In review articles, the authors might say "In this review..." or the article title might include the phrase "A review."

For example, browse these review articles on cell polarity, from the PLoS database.
Parts of a scientific research article
Unsure whether you are looking at a scholarly scientific article? Check to see if your article has the following elements, which are indicative of scholarly, original research articles:

Reading the literature
Scientific journal articles are often dense and hard for the young scientist (and others!) to understand. Try this tip: don't read the article straight through! Instead practice the advice advocated in Essential Skills for Science and Technology, Booth Library call number Q181 .E73 2008.

Ask yourself some questions prior to reading, such as:
        -  Why am I reading this?
        -  What specific information am I looking for?
        -  How thoroughly do I need to understand this information?

Read in this order:
       1. Title and Author -- Is the article relevant to your research needs? If
           unclear, read abstract.
       2. Abstract -- If abstract (article summary) seems fruitful to your needs,
           continue to summary. Otherwise, look for better articles.
       3. Summary/Conclusion -- What are the main findings and implications
           of this study? If useful to you, continue to the introduction, methods,
           results, and discussion.
       4. Introduction -- What question(s) does this study address?
       5. Materials and Methods -- How was the study conducted?
       6. Results -- What did the study find? Spend time trying to interpret the
           figures and graphs.
       7. Discussion -- What have the authors concluded from their study? Did
           the study answer the initial questions posed?

Write down key words and phrases. Look up unfamiliar terms.
Subject Specialist
Picture: Kirstin Duffin

Kirstin Duffin
Reference Librarian Liaison for Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Geology/Geography
kduffin@eiu.edu
Office: 217 581-7550


Reference Desk: 217-581-6072
Email the Reference Desk

EIU Booth Library resources for biology
Find library resources especially for students of biology at this link.

The above link will give you access to:
- article databases
- ebooks
- journals
- electronic reference materials
- research guides

Click on the appropriate colorful tab to access each of these types of resources.

If you are off campus, you may be prompted to log in using your EIU username and password to access some of these materials.

Navigate back to this guide!
http://booth.eiu.edu/bio1150