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BIO-1150 General Biology: Science Research

The Scientific Information Life Cycle

  • Life Cycle of Scientific Information, University of Toledo

    This handout provides a helpful visual of the progression of scientific information sharing, starting with experts in the field, and then eventually a broader dissemination meant for non-scientists or beginning scientists.

Peer Review

Scientific papers must meet the threshold of peer review in order to be published in most scholarly scientific journals.
  1. The author(s) submit their paper to a particular journal relevant to their field of study.
  2. The editor of the journal reads the paper, and forwards it to a panel of experts for review.
  3. The panel of peer reviewers, consisting of scientists in the same field (or a closely related field), read the article and provide their objective feedback.
  4. The author(s) are given an opportunity to revise their work if necessary and resubmit.
  5. If the panel decides that the paper has met certain scientific standards, it is approved for publication.
  6. The actual process will vary from journal to journal. In some cases, it may be a blind peer review, meaning that the reviewers do not know the authors' names.

Though time-consuming, the process of peer review is essential for verifying and certifying the quality and veracity of scientific research.

Types of Scientific Articles


Original Research Studies

  • Original research studies report the findings of new research that has not been published before. They are written by the scientists who conducted the study, for an audience of other scientists. Original research studies are published in peer-reviewed academic journals. These articles must include a Methods or Methodology section describing the exact procedures used to carry out the research, so that it may be replicated and verified by other scientists.

Review Articles

  • Review articles are peer-reviewed, and are written by scientists for scientists. However, rather than reporting new research findings, they analyze and synthesize results from many other studies. Thus, review articles are a great source for understanding what's known and what's not known about a given topic, as well as what types of experiments have been conducted in attempting to further that knowledge.

Non-scholarly articles in newspapers, popular magazines, and news/science websites, press releases

  • Many of these types of articles are written by journalists, who may or may not have a scientific background. Often, these articles will be written about an original published study, though in many cases, they do not provide a direct link. They are written in simpler, non-technical language for a mainstream audience. Thus these will be easier to understand, but they may only present the aspects of the study that they think will most appeal to a broad audience. Because of this, much of the nuance is lost in these interpretations.

Primary vs Secondary


Primary Sources or "primary scientific literature" include the following:

  • Original research studies (empirical studies)
  • Papers, presentations, or proceedings from scientific conferences or meetings
  • Dissertations and theses
  • Patents

Secondary Sources or "secondary scientific literature" include the following:

  • Review articles
  • News or magazine articles
  • Textbooks
  • Encyclopedias