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Nutrition Library Guide: Articles/Research Databases

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Scholarly Article Types

Original research - Written by the researchers who performed the actual, on-the-ground study, these articles include the methods, results and discussion related to a single research project.  Original research articles are considered primary sources and are the major form of communication across most of the sciences.

Case study - A detailed analysis of an individual or group as a model for a particular medical phenomena. Impact limited due to sample size, but can serve as an entry point to more detailed research.

Review - An article that summarizes and synthesizes numerous original research articles.  These articles are heavily used by researchers seeking to keep up with the literature around a topic.  Review articles can be used to identify original articles/authors for further reading.  Review articles are generally written by a researcher, but may include information about studies by numerous other authors. Review articles are considered secondary sources.

Systematic review - A systematic method that uses statistics to analyze the results from numerous studies.  Systematic reviews are widely used in the health sciences, often to find a generalized conclusion from multiple evidence-based studies. Example: "85% of the studies showed a positive correlation with..."

Meta-analysis - A systematic method that uses statistics to analyze the data from numerous studies.  The researcher will combine the actual data from studies with similar data types (i.e. males between 25-30 years old with vitamin D deficiency) and analyze them as a single expanded data set. PubMed/Medline treats meta-analysis as a subset of systematic reviews.

Systematic reviews and meta-analysis articles are a sort of hybrid between primary and secondary  sources because they provide new results based on previously published data, and the authors are basing their conclusions on data collected by others.

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Librarian

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Amy Shannon
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For NUTR 725