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Primary, Secondary, Tertiary Sources This guide outlines the differences between primary, secondary and tertiary sources of information. Primary Sources Video Learn to distinguish between primary and secondary sources, and use them appropriately in your research.
CLIP video, 6 min. Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Literature Sources of information are often considered primary, secondary, or tertiary depending on their originality and proximity of when it was created. Consider if it is an original work, or whether it evaluates or comments on the works of others.
Also consider the proximity, or how close the information is to a first-hand account or if it is after the fact. It can be difficult to distinguish between the three types of sources. They even differ between subjects and disciplines, particularly between the sciences and humanities.
By understanding the unique characteristics and features of each, you will be able to identify them and maximize their potential use, and ultimately help Sources for a research paper become a more effective researcher and communicate your work to others.
They are created by those who have directly witnessed what they are describing, and bring us as close to the original event or thought as possible without being filtered, influenced or analyzed through interpretation. They tend to be original documents that don't usually describe or analyze work by others.
Primary sources may be published or unpublished works. Use primary sources when you want to make claims or criticisms, as evidence for theories, or to gain timely perspectives on a topic.
Letters, diaries, speeches, interviews, correspondence History: Interview transcripts of mentally ill patients; raw, analyzed population data; newspaper articles about events. Analyzed results from biological study; analyzed field data collected by environmental org; original experiments or research.
They summarize, evaluate, and analytically interpret primary material, often by offering a personal perspective.
While these are useful to check what other experts in the field have to say, they are not evidence. It is one step removed from the original or primary source.
Because secondary sources are published works, they will list their sources of information which can be used to located additional information for your research. Use secondary sources to see what others have discussed. They can be a good place to gather background information on a topic.
You can also use secondary sources to explore what subtopics have already been explored on a given topic. Textbooks, monographs booksencyclopedias, analysis, review articles, dissertations, thesis, History: Literary critiques such as an article that examines Cervantes' writing style; paper discussing motifs in The Metamorphosis Art: Lecture given about Michelangelo's techniques; Criticism or review of Picasso's painting Social Sciences: News commentaries; Article analyzing results of mental illness study; book that discusses population trends over time; evaluations of social and government policy, law and legislation.
The information is compiled and digested into factual representation, so that it does not obviously reflect points of view, critiques or persuasions.
Tertiary sources are typically the last to be published in the information cycle. Because it has been filtered through many reviewers, it tends to consist of highly reliable and accurate information, plus contain broad perspectives of topics. Use tertiary sources for a general overview of your topic and for background information for your research.
Encyclopedias, directories, dictionaries, handbooks, guides, classification, chronology, and other fact books. Don't forget that our librarians are excellent resources!In scholarship, a secondary source is a document or recording that relates or discusses information originally presented elsewhere.
A secondary source contrasts with a primary source, which is an original source of the information being discussed; a primary source can be a person with direct knowledge of a situation, or a document created by such a person.
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