Monday, October 24, 2016

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

 Hacker and Fister (2015) offered the following definitions of "primary source" and "secondary source":
An original source, such as a speech, a diary, a novel, a legislative bill, a laboratory study, a field research report, or an eyewitness account. While not necessarily more reliable than a secondary source, a primary source has the advantage of being closely related to the information it conveys and as such is often considered essential for research, particularly in history. In the sciences, reports of new research written by the scientists who conducted it are considered primary sources. ( p. 271)
A source that comments on, analyzes, or otherwise relies on primary sources. An article in a newspaper that reports on a scientific discovery or a book that analyzes a writer's work is a secondary source. (p. 272)
Hacker, D., & Fister, B. (2015). Research and documentation in the digital age. Boston, MA:   Bedford/St. Martin's. [Available for reference at the Health Sciences Library, ZA4375 .H327 2015]

  • Yale University has a webpage that list examples of primary, secondary, and tertiary sources by subject discipline:
  • Susan Thomas, a librarian at Borough of Manhattan Community College, created a concise and clear webpage with tables that help distinguish primary and secondary sources in general:

  • Michigan State University Libraries also created a learning tool that teaches the concept of primary sources in the discipline of history.

  • Meg Kribble from Harvard Law School Library has a page that talks about secondary sources in law research.

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