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BIOL 312 - Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy


Your assignment involves writing a paper of approximately 10 pages in length. At least 15 sources must be cited from primary literature.

Primary literature predominately comes from scholarly journals. However, not everything in scholarly journals will be primary literature. Often, you will see review articles. Review articles are are articles that talk about other people's work. These articles can summarize one journal article or many. They might compare or contrast different articles. Or, they can look at many studies and show the progression in a field over a period of time. Review articles can be a very good source to finding primary research articles.

Primary articles (or primary research articles) are articles that are written about a study that the author(s) did. Characteristics of a primary article include:

  • Written in first person narrative. In other words, you will see the author(s) referred to as I (we). For example, "I assembled the apparatus ..." or "We performed a ...".
  • The article will generally be divided into sections that could include:
    • Abstract - a summary of the article. Note, however, that an abstract can also be found for review articles.
    • Introduction - background information about the research. Almost always includes a thesis statement and a literature review. What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who's work are you building upon or using for inspiration?
    • Materials and Methods - The techniques or procedures used for carrying out the experiment. This may also include specific settings, amounts, measurements, etc. (i.e., how are you doing your experiment?).
    • Results - A description of what happened as a result of the experiment. This section often includes tables, charts, graphs, or other visual depiction of the data gathered.
    • Discussion - This is the WHY portion of the article. The discussion can be confirming (the author got the expected results) or predictive (the author speculates why the expected results did not occur).
    • References - Resources consulted to support the various aspects of the research, including all previous sections. Note: references will also be found in review articles.

Important Message

It is highly likely that links or URLs to articles that you sent to your email during class will not open when you are off campus. If you have problems opening a link off campus, paste the URL in the URL Converter Tool below, click "Convert link", and try the resulting URL.

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