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BI230 Ecology Library Research Methods

Welcome to Centennial College's BI230 Ecology Library Research Methods guide. This guide will introduce you to the processes and resources needed to successfully complete your papers and assignments.

Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary sources in the sciences are different than primary sources in the social sciences and humanities. This section defines what the difference is between a primary and secondary source with examples.  

To find scientific primary sources for your research papers, use the science databases suggested in the Journal Articles section.

What is a primary source?

Primary sources are:

  • First hand/original data document or record

What is a secondary source?

Secondary sources are:

  • Published/unpublished work that summarizes, analyzes, and/or evaluates the original source of work.

Peer Reviewed Article

Before conducting a search, check and see if the online periodical database has an option to limit your search to scholarly or "peer reviewed"** publications. For example, there may be a box you can check that says "peer reviewed." While this is a good first step, you should be aware that each online database provider (e.g. EBSCOhost) may have different definitions of "peer reviewed." 

What is peer-reviewed?

This term generally refers to a publication that contains only articles that have been reviewed, (qualified) edited and selected by recognized experts in the particular field of study covered by the journal.

Structure of a Primary Article in the Sciences



  • thesis
  • research question(s)
  • discussion on other research in field


  • how the research was conducted in relation to thesis


  • data collected and analyzed


  • discussion of other research in field



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