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BISC 102: General Biology

This web page is intended to help with the BISC 102 assignment. 

If you need help, please contact Ean Henninger, Liaison Librarian at 778.782.4173 (inaccessible due to library closure) or or Ask a librarian.

For this assignment you are to locate a primary scholarly article from a peer-reviewed journal.

What is a primary scholarly article?

Primary scholarly articles:

  • Report on new experimental results.
  • Typically include sections such as Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion, Bibilography
  • Are sharply focused information on discoveries, research and recent events. They do not usually provide much basic information.
  • Are peer-reviewed; experts examine submitted articles before accepting them for publication.

For your assignments you will need to use primary not secondary sources. In other words, you will need to find a paper that focuses on original physical experiments not a review paper or a meta-analysis.

How do I find primary scholarly articles?

Search in an article database! Key databases: Web of Science | Zoological Record | Google Scholar


  • Identify the key terms that best represent the concepts in your topic and type those words into the search box.
  • Scan the abstract to see if the article is a primary source. Look for words like experiment or methods or study.
  • Use the Get@SFU button to search the library’s holdings and locate the full-text article.

Is the article I found a primary scholarly article?

Ask yourself the following questions. Yes should be the answer for most of them.

  • Is the article written by experts and for experts in the field?
  • Does the article report the results of experimental research?
  • Does the article have a bibliography or list of references at the end?
  • Does the journal have an editorial policy that includes peer-review?
  • Look at the structure of the paper. Does it follow the structure of a scientific paper?

What is peer-review?

  • An editorial board asks subject experts to review and evaluate submitted articles before accepting them for publication in a scholarly journal.
  • Submissions are evaluated using criteria including the excellence, novelty and significance of the research or ideas.
  • Scholarly journals use this process to protect and maintain the quality of material they publish.
  • Members of the editorial board are listed near the beginning of each journal issue.

Structure of a scientific paper

Scientific papers follow a structured format. They consist of distinct sections which each contain a specific type of information:

  • Title - describes contents clearly and precisely
  • Abstract - provides a complete, but very succinct summary of the paper
  • Introduction - background information and hypothesis
  • Materials & Methods (or Methods) - describes both specific techniques and the overall experimental strategy used
  • Results - contains the data collected
  • Discussion - explains how the authors interpret their data and how they connect it to other work
  • Acknowledgements - people or institutions (in addition to the authors) that contributed to the work
  • Literature cited - provides the sources cited throughout the paper