Good quality research uses all three types of sources.
Primary sources provide the raw data for your research.
You will use tertiary sources such as encyclopedias, dictionaries and other reference tools to gather background information on your topic and to identify the people, places, dates, organizations, and themes central to your topic.
Secondary sources such as books, scholarly journals, and newspaper article synthesize correct research and help you put your subject in context. Secondary sources are tremendously important for helping to position your argument within the existing research and peer conversation.
TIP: What is considered primary, secondary, or tertiary information may vary according to your field of study. When in doubt, ask your professor.
Primary sources have the following characteristics:
Secondary sources have the following characteristics:
Tertiary sources have the following characteristics:
In history and the humanities sources are also described as primary or secondary sources. Basically, primary sources are written at the time of the event and secondary sources are written using the primary sources.
|Primary Sources||Secondary Sources|
There are some print texts that can be primary or secondary depending why you are using them, or are simply not clearly defined.