UTS Library

60207 Research Methods: Finding primary literature

In this guide:

What is primary and secondary scientific literature?

Primary scientific literature comprises scholarly publications that report original research results and discoveries, e.g. research articles published in a journal, conference papers, original documents, creative works. They are very specific and difficult to read if the general subject is not well understood.  

Research articles are often divided into the following sections:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Method
  • Results
  • Discussion & Conclusion

 Secondary scientific literature interprets and analyzes primary sources and is generally contained in works such as text books, encyclopedias or review articles. 

Finding research articles

  • You have developed a focused research question, e.g.

           How is lower PH seawater affecting calcification of coral skeletons?

           Is phage therapy effective to treat E. coli infection? If yes, how does it work?

  • Identify the keywords and alternative terms, and you can reuse the concept table

           e.g. ocian acidification, OA; calcification, calcifying; coral skeleton

  • Build search strategy

Keyword search string: ("ocean acidification" OR OA) AND calcif* AND coral AND skelet*

    Works for Web of Science All Databases, SCOPUS and Proquest Science and Technology

Search operators    

Boolean operators: AND, OR, NOT

    Phrase search: "ocean acidification" 

    Truncation: calcif* will search for calcification, calcify, calcitying

  •    After search, you need to refine the results to research articles

Citation counts

Citation counts are used in bibliometrics to evaluate the popularity or impact of published literature especially journal articles.

Scopus, Web of Science and Google Scholar are the three main places where citation counts can be found.