How can I tell if the sources relied upon in the Reference list of my research article for Nursing 39000 are primary or secondary?


In some cases, the title of an article will indicate whether or not it is a primary study. For example, does the title state that the article is a systematic review, meta-analysis, or literature review? If so, these are secondary sources.  Does the title state that the article is a randomized controlled trial or a qualitative study? If so, it is a primary source.

You may need to search for the full text of an article to determine its status. When you find the full text, look for headings that match the familiar components of a research study – terms like objectives, method, data analysis, results, etc. This usually indicates a primary study.  Look in the methods section to see how the researchers describe their study.  Randomized controlled trials, case controlled studies, and cohort studies are all examples of primary research studies.


  • Last Updated May 03, 2017
  • Views 31
  • Answered By Marcia Keith

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