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NEUR 301 - Research Methods in Neuroscience: Home

Spring 2024 - Dr. Campolattaro
NEUR 301

How to Read Scientific Papers

Two visual presentations of how to read a scientific paper.

Primary research vs. Review articles

Primary Research vs Review Articles

It's often difficult to tell the difference between original research articles and review articles. Here are some explanations and tips that may help:

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)
  • Discussion

Abstract - summarizes the research findings and is a tool to help determine the type of 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.

Review articles summarize, analyze, and evaluate current research related to a specific topic, field, or problem. They are often lengthy with a large number of citations. Since they review previously published material, review article are considered secondary sources. They can be of great value for identifying potentially good primary sources, but they aren't primary themselves.
*Adapted from Ithaca College Library

NEUR 301 - Lipatova

Cited By

Cited By searching

You will often see the term "Cited by" in databases or next to article citations or abstracts.  This is a research tool that identifies publications that have cited that particular publication.  For example, if you have identified an article that is helpful to your research you may be able use the cited by information to find out who cited it in their bibliographies.

This is the opposite of using a bibliography/works cited to see what article the authors used in their article.  Therefore, if it is a recently published article, no one else may have cited it yet.  But for older aticles, this can be a good way to stumble on related, more current research.  Also, if an article has been cited by others a large number of times, the original article may be of importance.

CNU does not subscribe to specialized citation databases, but there are still ways to determine this information.

Generally the strategy is to search for the article title or author’s name and work to find the original article. Once you have found it, there will be a link to “cited by” or “cited references” which should give you a link of sources that cite that original article.

ProQuest and EbscoHost databases often include a Cited By link for citations.

Google Scholar provides these links below the citation in the search results.

ScienceDirect and journals published by Elsevier will have a "Citing and recommended articles" box to the right of the article.

PubMed provides these link when  you click on an article title and view the abstract.  The "Cited by" articles can be found in the right hand column under the "Cited by # PubMed Central article(s)".

Journals published by Wiley will have  a "Cited by" tab when looking at the article information.


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