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What is the Scientific Literature?

The scientific literature is the collective body of research that has been published since the beginning of modern science in the mid-17th century. The literature is truly vast, containing hundreds of millions of documents in all kinds of formats and languages, on every topic imaginable.

But there is method to this madness. The literature is both produced and consumed by scientists who use it to inform their own research, which is then in turn reported for others to use. This is called the Research Cycle, and it's an endless loop of discovery and learning (moving counterclockwise in this diagram) and knowledge dissemination (moving clockwise).

research cycle

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