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Biotechnology: Types of Sources

Different Types of Articles

You might be asked by your instructor to find and use specific kinds of articles. Use this page to learn about different sources to help you decide when you should be using different types of sources in your research.

Types of Sources




Cover of Scientific American magazine
Audience General Public
Author Written by journalists with no subject expertise
Citations Very few or none
Content Current events, general interest articles
Purpose To inform, entertain
Review Process Editorial staff, usually with no background in the field




Cover of Physics Today
Audience Professionals in a specific field
Author Usually expert in a field, journalist with subject expertise
Citations Some articles will have citations, but they are not required
Content Articles about a certain industry
Purpose To inform about current news, trends, and tools in an industry
Review Process Editor who is usually an expert in the field




Cover of Journal of the American Mathematical Society
Audience Academics, researchers
Author Academics and researchers experts in their field
Citations References required
Content Research results/reports, reviews of research, book reviews 
Purpose To share with academic community
Review Process Editorial board made up of other experts, many articles are peer-reviewed

Primary Sources vs. Secondary Sources

Primary Sources Secondary Sources
Author conducted the research Author did not conduct the research
Describes what was observed during the research Summarizes, analyzes, or offers opinion on the research
Research papers, field data and lab notebooks, technical reports, and conference presentations Scholarly review articles and most books, news, and popular magazine articles about science

How Do Peer Reviewed Articles Get Published?

Watch this short video to learn more about the research publication process.