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ENVS12100 Introduction to Environmental Science and Technology

Primary vs. Review articles

There are two types of scholarly articles you can expect to find: Primary Research and Review. 

Primary research articles are made up of original work done by researchers. They will cover one experiment or study, although they may reference others.

Review articles look at multiple studies on a topic. They're a great way to find a review of your topic. You'll probably want to track down the studies that they mention and read them yourself.

Some databases, like Science Direct, will show you the article type:

In other databases, you may need to read the abstract of the article to figure out what type it is.

Finding More Sources

Subject Headings

Sometimes you might find one or two items that are great for your topic, but can’t find any more. One way to address this situation is to use  subject headings. Look at the subjects listed for one of your best sources and try adding these to your search.


Another way to leverage a few good sources to find more sources is to examine their bibliographies. These can point you to important older research on the topic.

Cited Reference Searching

Many databases, including Library Search, will let you search for sources that cite a known source. So if you have a good paper, try clicking on the “citing this” link to see newer sources.


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Abby Juda