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WRT 101S - Desert Vista - Information Literacy Skills - Severson: Primary vs.Secondary Source

Primary Sources

Primary sources are original materials. They are from the time period involved and have not been filtered through interpretation or evaluation. 

Examples:

  • Artifacts (e.g. coins, plant specimens, fossils, furniture, tools, clothing, all from the time under study);
  • Audio recordings (e.g. radio programs)
  • Diaries;
  • Internet communications on email, listservs;
  • Interviews (e.g., oral histories, telephone, e-mail);
  • Journal articles published in peer-reviewed publications;
  • Letters;
  • Newspaper articles written at the time;
  • Original Documents (i.e. birth certificate, will, marriage license, trial transcript);
  • Patents;
  • Photographs
  • Proceedings of Meetings, conferences and symposia;
  • Records of organizations, government agencies (e.g. annual report, treaty, constitution, government document);
  • Speeches;
  • Survey Research (e.g., market surveys, public opinion polls);
  • Video recordings (e.g. television programs);
  • Works of art, architecture, literature, and music (e.g., paintings, sculptures, musical scores, buildings, novels, poems)

From: "Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources." Univeristy of Maryland, Univeristy Libraries. 1 March 2013. Web. 3 October, 2013.

Identifying Sources

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are accounts written "after the fact" and with the benefit of hindsight (greater understanding of the incident).  They are normally interpretions and evaluations of primary sources. Secondary sources are not evidence, since they provide commentary on and discussion of the evidence. 

From: "Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources." Univeristy of Maryland, Univeristy Libraries. 1 March 2013. Web. 3 October, 2013.

Primary and Secondary Source Examples

More Primary and Secondary Sources at Pima