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BIO 101 Bio Lab: Article Types

Primary Research Articles

Primary Research articles are nearly always presented in academic journals. They report on the process and results of primary research. They contain sections on: literature review, methods and materials, results and conclusions.  Sometimes the sections have slightly different names.  Primary articles tend to be more complex than other types of literature, but the abstract can help give you a general understanding of what will follow in the article. 

Below is an example of a journal article. (click on image for full article)


You can tell it is a journal article because you can see the title of the journal, the volume, the pages and the date. This information is in the top left hand corner in the above example, but it can be on the opposite side, or at the bottom depending on the journal. 

If you were going to cite the above journal in your bibliography, it would be cited as:

Shulman, J. M. (2015). Drosophila and experimental neurology in the post-genomic era. Experimental neurology274, 4-13.


To cite the article within the text you would cite it as:

(Shulman, 2015)


When using APA Parenthetical citation you list authors up to 5 when citing for the first time. If there are more than 5 authors, then you use et. al  For example (Jones et. al, 1999) For more information on APA Citation, refer to the APA Citation Guide linked at the bottom of this page.

Here ia another example from an online Journal


The Citations would Look like this:

Gibert, J. M., Peronnet, F., & Schlötterer, C. (2007). Phenotypic plasticity in Drosophila pigmentation caused by temperature sensitivity of a chromatin regulator network. PLOS Genetics 3(2):e30.

When cited in your paper, it would look like this:

(Gibert, Peronnet, & Schlötterer, 2007)


Review Articles

Review articles are another type of article appearing in a scientific journal. Rather than reporting on original research, like a primary research article, a review article reports on the current state of knowledge about a topic, by presenting recent research about the topic. 

An example of a review article is:  Recent progress in understanding the role of ecdysteroids in adult insects: Germline development and circadian clock in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

You would cite this item:

Uryu, O., Ameku, T., & Niwa, R. (2015). Recent progress in understanding the role of ecdysteroids in adult insects: Germline development and circadian clock in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Zoological Letters,1(1), 1-12.

To Cite this within your article you would do:

(Uryu, Ameku & Niwa, 2015)

You may notice that in the top left hand corner of this article it says Uryu et. al You would not cite it in your paper in that way, until you had already cited it once with all three authors.  For more detail about citing, see the APA guide at the bottom of this page. 

Secondary Sources

You may choose to select a secondary source for one of your references. These sources are usually magazines or websites, and do not present the original scientific research. 


Secondary articles are great to get you started in your research but do not have the content that you need to fully inform your research. Secondary articles are generally shorter and much less in-depth than primary articles.  They often do not have an author, so it is hard for you to determine the authority of the article.  Many magazine articles do have authors, but the authors are journalists, rather than scientists. 

The article below is from the magazine Science & Spirit and is a single page article.

It would be cited in the bibliography page as:

Keller, J. C. (2005). Be fruitful and multifly. Science & Spirit, 16(6), 21.


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