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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 778.782.5043 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