It's often difficult to tell the difference between original research articles and review articles. Here are some explanations and tips that may help:
Review articles are often as lengthy or even longer than original research articles. The authors of review articles are summarizing, analyzing, and evaluating current research and investigations related to a specific topic, field, or problem. They are not primary sources since they review previously published material, but are considered secondary sources. They can be of great value for identifying potentially good primary sources, but they aren't primary themselves.
Primary research articles are written accounts of research conducted by the authors. The articles can be identified by a commonly used format. Primary research articles contain:
Methods (sometimes with variations, such as Materials and Methods)
Results (usually followed with charts and statistical tables)
Abstract - found at the beginning of an article, will summarize the research findings and give you a good sense of the kind of article that is being presented, so this is an excellent tool to use to determine if the item is a review article or a research article. If there is no abstract at all, that in itself may be a sign that it is not a primary source. If it is primary research, the article will discuss steps and tests done in their research or experiment, much like you write up a lab report.
*Adapted from Ithaca College Library
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