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ENG 103 Writing in the Sciences: Types of Scientific Literature

Magazines, Newspapers and Websites

Magazines and newspapers are great secondary sources of scientific information and can lead you to primary scientific research findings and journal articles.  Here are a few sources that the library recommends for student use:

Ars Technica

BBC Science and the Environment

MIT Technology Review

National Geographic via Flipster


New York Times Science Section

Popular Science

Scientific American

Science News via Flipster

Washington Post Health and Science


Common Types of Science Articles Found in Library Databases

Research article 

  • gives a full report on new research conducted by the authors
  • usually divided into sections such as introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion
  • detail for others to evaluate the conclusions or repeat the experiment
  • cites research

Letter/Note (Not the same as opinion pieces/letters to editor)

  • reports a significant research result that does not require an extensive study
  • brief article, typically 2-4 pages
  • usually not divided into sections
  • citations within

Review article 

  • does not report original research
  • reviews several previously published works on one topic
  • reports on work done by many scientist
  • citations within

Conference proceedings

  • reports of presentations made at professional meetings
  • may be full articles or just abstracts of presentation

Other documents that may turn up in your searches:


  • describes a new invention
  • provides legal rights for the inventor
  • a government document


  • describes new research conducted for a Ph.D. or other advanced degree
  • reviewed and accepted by a faculty committee
Technical Report Writing

A technical report is a formal report designed to convey technical information in a clear and easily accessible format. It is divided into sections which allow different readers to access different levels of information. Typically in the sciences, this type of writing is usually found in formal technical reports and less formal reports, such as lab reports in a variety of disciplines and purposes. SUNY has published a guide to technical report writing available freely to all who which to learn more about the subject: