Q. What are primary, secondary, and tertiary sources?
Primary sources include information in its original form from the time the event occurred or well after the events in the form of memoirs and oral histories. These types of sources include material that has not been published elsewhere or put into a context, interpreted, filtered, condensed, or evaluated by anyone else. Examples include diaries, letters, original research, U.S. census records, original creative works, and artifacts.
Secondary sources include works that interpret or evaluate primary data such as monographs, notes from a professor's lecture, textbooks, and biographical works. Other examples include works that lead to the primary information such as an index or bibliography of an author's original work.
Tertiary sources include the selection, distillation, summary, or compilation of primary sources, secondary sources, or both. These works often index, organize, and compile citations to secondary sources. Examples include almanacs, chronologies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, directories, fact books, manuals, and textbooks (may also be secondary).
For more information on these three types of sources, please see the attachment. If you need assistance in located a specific type of source, please schedule an appointment with a research coach.