In the sciences, primary sources, or "primary literature," are sources which report the results of original research. The most common primary sources in the sciences are journal articles or conference papers which describe a new theory or the results of an experiment. In contrast, sources which review the existing literature are "secondary sources." These can include "review articles" in journals, books, encyclopedia entries, and news reports.
The fields of history, philosophy, and sociology of science use primary source materials much like those used in the Humanities. Students researching in one of these areas should also consult the information in the Humanities section of this guide.
Primary source journal articles in the sciences usually follow a certain structure, with the following sections:
Primary source journal articles (and sometimes, conference proceedings) in the sciences are usually peer-reviewed. This means that independent experts in the field review, or "referee" the publication to check the accuracy and validity of its claims.
Example: Articles in the journal Boundary-Layer Meteorology
Example: The book Atmospheric Boundary Layer, by J.R. Garratt, 1992.
Example: The book The Atmosphere, by R.A. Anthes, et al., 2nd ed. 1978
Try a keyword search in the library catalogue combining your subject with words that identify a particular genre:
Each discipline taught at UBC is represented by a Library Research guide. The guides describe and link to the best sources for your research - including collections which contain significant numbers of primary sources in the Sciences. Click the "Applied Sciences," "Natural Sciences," "Health Sciences" or "Physical Sciences" links to bring up the guides for these topic areas.