6 Types of Scientific Literature

Part of doing scientific research is going through literature to source out more information for reference purposes. However, most people, especially new scientists, struggle with where to source material for their work. To help, here are a few types of scientific literature one can consult when doing research.

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Primary Research Articles

These are the typical scientific articles often published in peer-reviewed journals. They report on the findings of the work of a scientist. Also, they will always include a description of how they did the research and what the discovery means.

Review Articles

Often, they are confused with primary research articles. They are also published in peer-reviewed journals but seek to incorporate and summarize research; that has already been done in a particular field instead of reporting new findings. Most likely, review articles will not have a section on materials and methods. However, Bentham Science professionals advise scientists to also use review articles for research; as they are a rich source of valuable references.


These are articles expressing the views of an author about a specific matter. It can be a matter of science policy, pushing for a particular research agenda; or even taking a stand on a scientific conflict. You can find them in certain publications, including Bentham science, trade publications, and peer-reviewed journals.

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Trade Publications

Trade publications often aim at various disciplines, like medicine and engineering. However, they will either report news relating to a specific industry or summarize research already published in other publications. The articles in such journals can be a few pages long with a few references. It is useful when you want to keep up with news on your discipline or find a topic to research about.

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You can find articles on science news in various publications. Popular magazines and newspapers, scholarly journals, and trade publications can all contain articles on science news. Also, these articles usually refer to a specific study that was published in a primary research article.

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These include reference materials such as dictionaries and handbooks. Books are a common type of scientific literature, and you have probably seen them in a library. Even though most scientific books cannot be counted as primary research; they help interpret or describe the prior research that has been published. Most publishers have full-text versions of scientific books, which you will find on their websites.

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All these types of scientific literature are rich sources of information where you can find resources for research. For students, most lecturers emphasize that students use primary research articles for school work. However, even secondary research can come in handy, especially when you are looking for more information.

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Images by Michal Jarmoluk, and Gerd Altmann