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Primary and Secondary Sources: Types of Sources

Types of Sources

  • Primary sources are original documents/resources that offer the closest picture to the idea or event as possible. Primary sources do not provide an analysis of the topic. A primary source can also include laboratory measurements or field notes.
  • The difference between primary sources and secondary is that secondary sources provide interpretations or analysis of the primary source. When a study is published that discusses the implications of the study or interprets it, it is a secondary source.
  • Tertiary sources are finding tools that help you find primary and secondary sources. They provide the most important aspects of something and can be collections of primary and secondary sources.

          George, Mary W. The Elements of Library Research. Princeton University Press, 2008.

primary source examples, interviews, data recordings, laboratory measurements, letters and diaries, blueprints or field notes, and works of art secondary source examples: journal articles, books, reviews of books or works of art, meta-analysis articles, literary criticism tertiary source examples: encyclopedia, dictionary, fact books, guide books, manuals, directories, and almanacs