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Research and Writing (RaW): Sources - Primary, Secondary, Tertiary

Guiding you through the process of finding information - from knowing that you need certain locating, evaluating, and effectively using said information.


Sources - Primary, Secondary, Tertiary

The understanding of and requirements for the various sources vary amongst fields. When in doubt, remember that primary sources contain "first hand" information and that secondary sources analyze or summarize primary sources.

Primary Sources
Secondary Sources
Tertiary Sources
Definition: Raw data; report of original research, discoveries, or ideas. Definition: Interpretations, commentary, or evaluations of primary sources. Definition: Sources that compile primary and secondary data on a particular topic.
Characteristics: First hand observations, contemporary accounts of events. Characteristics: Interpretation of an event written after it has occurred Characteristics: Tend to summarize and/or synthesize information about a topic.
Examples: Diaries, Speeches, Interviews, Scholarly Articles (science), Oral Histories, Photographs Examples: Biographies, Editorials, Journal Articles Examples: Textbooks, Reference Books, Encyclopedias