Primary or Secondary?

Primary and Secondary Sources

Information sources can be classified as primary or secondary based on their originality and proximity to a source. Primary sources come directly from the source or person. They are original materials. Secondary sources analyze, interpret and comment on primary information.

Examples of Primary Sources
  • books or journal articles that present original ideas or research
  • newspaper articles reporting on an event
  • statistics, interviews and surveys
  • autobiographies, diaries and original writing
  • artifacts, photographs, artwork, and music
  • patents and legislation
Examples of Secondary Sources
  • biographies
  • books or journal articles that report or summarize the findings of others
  • newspaper articles offering commentary or opinions
  • reference works (encyclopedias dictionaries, etc.)

Primary sources provide the most direct, unfiltered sources of information. Secondary resources, on the other hand, allow you to get a broader overview of a subject and how it fits in to a discipline.