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Identify Sources: Primary or Secondary/Scholarly or Popular/Peer-Reviewed: Primary or Secondary ?

How to identify sources

What is this page for?

This page assists with identifying if a source is PRIMARY or SECONDARY

Primary Defined

  • A Primary Source is an original work of literature or art or a first-hand account of an event that has not been interpreted by anyone other than its creator.
  • These sources were either created during the time period being studied, or were created at a later date by someone who participated in the events (ex: memoirs).
  • They reflect the individual viewpoint of a participant or observer.
  • Some examples or primary sources: diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, eye-witness accounts, autobiographies, clinical research, case studies, and works of art such as poetry, photographs, paintings, music.

Is My Source Primary or Secondary?

How to find primary sources at SVC

The SVC databases provide access to some primary source materials, they are linked here.

  • Look for source that are provide first hand accounts or are original documents, etc.(see more details on this page)

How to find secondary sources at SVC

Almost all of the resources in the SVC databases will provide secondary sources. 

  • Look for articles that analyze, discuss, interpret, comment on, or provide perspectives on other research, events, or data. (see more details on this page)

Secondary Defined

  • A Secondary Source is any information written ABOUT the primary source text. 
  • Secondary sources also provide interpretation, commentary and analysis, and criticism of an historical event, in other words, events that are recounted by people who were not first-hand witnesses  but are generally at least one step removed.
  • Some examples of secondary sources are: analysis or research based journal articles, biographies, political commentary, books that interpret or analyze, newspaper editorials, reference works, literature and other reviews.
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