1b. Develop Questions & Keywords1d. Find Background Information1e. Refine a Topic
2a. Find Books2b. Find Articles2c. Find Full Text2d. Find Reserves2e. Find Images2f. Find Films2g. Find Websites2h. Search Strategies
3a. Evaluate Sources3b. Primary vs. Secondary Sources3c. Types of Periodicals
4a. Paraphrasing4b. Notetaking
5a. Plagiarism5b. MLA Citation Style5c. Works Cited Examples5d. Copyright
This is the "3b. Primary vs. Secondary Sources" page of the "Olin Library: Research Skills" guide.
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Last Updated: Oct 29, 2015 URL: http://library.drury.edu/research Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

3b. Primary vs. Secondary Sources Print Page
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Primary vs Secondary Sources

When evaluating the quality of the information you are using, it is useful to identify if you are using a Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary source. By doing so, you will be able recognize if the author is reporting on his/her own first hand experiences, or relying on the views of others.

Source Type Examples
Primary
A primary source is a first person account by someone who experienced or witnessed an event. This original document has not been previously published or interpreted by anyone else.
  • First person account of an event
  • First publication of a scientific study
  • Speech or lecture
  • Original artwork
  • Handwritten manuscript
  • Letters between two people
  • A diary
  • Historical documents, e.g. Bill of Rights
Secondary
A secondary source is one step removed from the primary original source. The author is reexamining, interpreting and forming conclusions based on the information that is conveyed in the primary source.
  • Newspaper reporting on a scientific study
  • Review of a music CD or art show
  • Biography
Tertiary
A tertiary source is further removed from primary source. It leads the researcher to a secondary source, rather than to the primary source.
  • A tertiary source is further removed from primary source. It leads the researcher to a secondary source, rather than to the primary source. Bibliography
  • Index to articles
  • Library catalog
 

Primary vs Secondary Sources

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