FAQs Primary or Secondary?

PRIMARY sources are original, first-hand, or contemporary materials.

Examples of primary sources include:

  • reports of original research, often published in scholarly journals or books.
  • original works of fiction (i.e. novels, plays, poems and stories).
  • original works of art (i.e. paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographs).
  • manuscripts, correspondence, diaries and autobiographies, interviews and other first-hand accounts.
  • contemporary news stories.
  • objects and artifacts.
  • research notes, raw data and statistics.

Secondary sources are removed one or more steps from the original item, time or creator. There is a layer of interpretation made by a second party.

Examples of secondary sources include:

  • summaries or analyses of research done by others.
  • biographies.
  • art reproductions (i.e. a poster of the Mona Lisa).
  • reviews of books, movies, art shows, plays and other performances.
  • summaries or analyses of past events.
  • textbooks and encyclopedias.

Please note that "Primary" and "Secondary" classifications are NOT the same as Popular and Scholarly!

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