What is primary literature in the sciences?
Most often, primary literature in the sciences is defined as scholarly, peer-reviewed research articles in which the authors conducted research/collected and analyzed data in some way. This is very different from how some other fields, such as history, define primary sources.
How do I know something is primary literature?
Some clues to look for: The article is published in a scholarly journal. The authors collected data, often in the field or lab. Check the abstract and methodology sections to determine.
If the authors only used other articles for their research, this is a review article NOT primary literature.
What if the authors used data someone else collected?
Check with your professor to see if research using secondary data is acceptable for your assignment.
Need help determining?