Chapter 4: Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources
By the end of this chapter, you should be able to:
- Execute better strategies for a successful search. (LO2)
- Locate scholarly resource using the library website. (LO3)
- Examine strategies for maintaining academic integrity. (LO5)
Three Types of Sources
The following information is about primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. These categories are helpful to recognize how close (or far) information is in relation to the source. Review the initial definition of each type of source, flip the card to see examples of that source by selecting “Turn”. After reviewing a card, select the right pointing arrow to move to the next card.
Differentiation of Source Types
Below are some questions to identify different scholarly resources, using better strategies for completing your research. Of course, if you are not sure, a librarian can help you differentiate between the source types.
Is this a primary source?
If you answer mostly yes to the following questions, then it is probably a primary resource.
- Did the author conduct original research on the topic?
- Is the information the result of a survey?
- Is the information uninterpreted data or statistics?
- Is the source an original document or creative work?
- Did the information come from personal experience?
Is this a secondary source?
If you answer mostly yes to the following questions, then it is probably a secondary resource.
- Did the author consult multiple sources to create this work?
- Is this information an interpretation or paraphrasing of another author’s work?
- Did the information come from second-hand reporting?
- Is the source a textbook, review, or commentary?
- Does the source include quotations or images?
Is this a tertiary source?
If you answer mostly yes to the following questions, then it is probably a tertiary resource.
- Did the author consult multiple sources to create the work?
- Is the source an abbreviated summary of multiple sources?
- Is the source a list used to locate other, more detailed information?
- Is the source similar to what you are being asked to write?
References for Remixed Content:
Australian National Library (2020, August 4). Primary, secondary, and tertiary sources [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzdSAOyZDfI
PALNI (2022, June 3). Primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. PALNI Information Literacy Modules. https://libguides.palni.edu/instruction_resources/ILModule5