Skip to main content

Secondary Library: Interpreting information

Primary & Secondary Sources

What are Primary Sources?

Primary sources are original documents and objects which were created at the time being studied. They provide direct or firsthand evidence about an event or period of time.

Examples would be eyewitness accounts, diary entries, documents, speeches, recordings, art objects‚Äč, artifacts used at the time.

What are Secondary Sources?

Secondary sources are any source about an event or period of time that was produced at a later time. They discuss, analyze and interpret primary sources.

Examples would be textbooks, history books, commentaries.

What are Tertiary Sources?

Tertiary sources are those used to organize and locate secondary and primary sources.

Examples would be indexes, abstracts, databases.

Scholarly & Popular resources

What are Scholarly Sources?

Scholarly sources are written by scholars, researchers or experts in the field of study. They are written for an academic audience, reviewed by peers.

Features would be formal or technical language, based on research, experiments or examination of evidence, include full referencing of sources, give qualifications or credentials of the author. 

What are Popular Sources?

Popular sources are written by journalists, professional or amateur writers, bloggers. They are written for a general audience, and more broadly available through media and retail outlets or the internet. 

Features would be short articles about news, culture, current affairs, informal language, minimal acknowledgement of sources, minimal or no author information.