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Evaluating Sources: Primary vs. Secondary

Primary sources

"Primary sources are the evidence of history, original records or objects created by participants or observers at the time historical events occurred or even well after events, as in memoirs and oral histories."

Source: Primary Sources on the Web: Finding, Evaluating, Using by the American Library Association 

Types of primary sources:

  • newspaper or magazine articles
  • books, letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals,
  • speeches, interviews, documents produced by government agencies,
  • maps, photographs, audio or video recordings, born-digital items (e.g. emails), research data
  • relics, objects or artifacts 

Secondary sources

"Any published or unpublished work that is one step removed from the original source, usually describing, summarizing, analyzing, evaluating, derived from, or based on primary source materials" 

Source: Dictionary for Library and Information Science

Types of secondary sources:

  • Journal articles or books
  • A review, critical analysis, commentary, histories, biographies 
  • Reference materials such as encyclopaedias