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Primary vs Secondary sources: Front Page

The Big Question

What is the difference between Primary and Secondary Sources of Information?

Teacher-Librarian

Cheryl Doucet's picture
Cheryl Doucet
Contact:
Cheryl Doucet
Teacher-Librarian
Duchess Park Secondary School
747 Winnipeg Ave
Prince George, BC
V2L 2V3

Definition of Primary Sources

primary source is a document or record containing firsthand information or original data on a topic. Primary sources are usually created by individuals who experienced the event and recorded or wrote about it.

Common examples of primary sources include:

  • Original research studies have a hypothesis, methods, results and a discussion/conclusion
  • Letters
  • Diaries
  • Memoirs
  • Speeches
  • Photographs
  • Oral Histories
  • Pamphlets
  • Newspapers written at the time of the event
  • Manuscripts
  • Official recordings of a business, including financial ledgers and labor files
  • Maps
  • Court Cases
  • Artifacts
  • Patents
  • Play or Short story
  • Audio or Video recordings
  • Census Figures
  • Opinion Polls

Primary sources are materials that are eyewitness accounts or as close to the original source as possible.

Qualitative data:

  • What people say.
    They are usually Speeches, Interviews and Conversations, and they may be captured in Videos, Audio Recordings, or transcribed into text.
  • What people write. 
    These include Autobiographies, Memoirs, Personal Journals and Diaries, Letters, Emails, Blogs, Twitter Feeds, etc.
  • Images and Videos.
  • Maps.
  • Government Documents
  • Laws, Court Cases and Decisions, Treaties.
  • Newspapers.

Quantitative data:

  • Statistics and Data.
  • Polls and Public Opinions.

 

 

Primary VS Secondary Sources

Examples of Primary and Secondary Sources

Choosing Primary Sources

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/choosing-primary-source-documents

Definition of Secondary Sources

secondary source is one that was created later by someone that did not experience firsthand or participate in the events in which the author is writing about. Secondary sources often summarize, interpret, analyze or comment on information found in primary sources.

Common examples of secondary sources include:

  • Books
  • Biographies
  • Essays
  • Literary Criticism
  • Encyclopedias
  • Journal articles that do not present new research

Secondary sources are interpretations and analyses based on primary sources.

For example, an autobiography is a primary source while a biography is a secondary source.

Typical secondary sources include:

  • Scholarly Journal Articles.  Use these and books exclusively for writing Literature Reviews.
  • Magazines.
  • Reports.
  • Encyclopedias.
  • Handbooks.
  • Dictionaries.
  • Documentaries.
  • Newspapers.

 

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