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Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources  

Last Updated: Nov 21, 2014 URL: Print Guide
Primary, Secondary, & Tertiary Sources Print Page

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What sources are considered Secondary and Tertiary may depend on your own institution and more specifically, your discipline.

Referenced and Suggested Source:


Primary Sources

"Primary sources are original materials. They are from the time period involved and have not been filtered through interpretation or evaluation. Primary sources are original materials on which other research is based. They are usually the first formal appearance of results in physical, print or electronic format. They present original thinking, report a discovery, or share new information."-University Libraries, University of Maryland
Examples: Artifacts, Images (Photographs or Works of Art), Works of Literature, Interviews or Oral Histories, Newspaper Articles written at the time, etc.



Secondary Sources

"Secondary sources are less easily defined than primary sources. Generally, they are accounts written after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. They are interpretations and evaluations of primary sources. Secondary sources are not evidence, but rather commentary on and discussion of evidence."-University Libraries, University of Maryland
Examples: Biographies, Commentaries, Histories, Criticisms, etc.

Tertiary Sources

"Tertiary sources consist of information which is a distillation and collection of primary and secondary sources."-University Libraries, University of Maryland
Examples: Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Bibliographies, Almanacs, etc.

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