History and Cultural Studies: Primary vs secondary sources


History and Cultural Studies: Primary vs secondary sources

Primary sources

A main supply is a document or record containing first-hand information or initial information on a subject. Main sources in many cases are developed during the time of a conference, but could additionally be recorded at a subsequent time (e.g. memoirs or interviews). Main sources offer insights into just exactly how individuals see their world at a specific time.

It is vital to assess main sources for precision, authenticity, bias and effectiveness.


  • Audio tracks
  • Artworks
  • Court public records
  • Diaries
  • Drawings
  • Movie footage
  • Federal federal federal Government papers
  • Interviews
  • Paper clippings
  • Original manuscripts
  • Photographs
  • Poetry
  • Posters
  • Songs and sheet music
  • Speeches

Understand that main sources tend to be reproduced in guide format – but that they’re nevertheless regarded as a source that is primary.

Supply: Reitz, JM 2004, on the web dictionary for information and library technology, russian brides Libraries Unlimited, Westport, Conn.

They are a couple of samples of main sources through the colletion. There are lots of more!

Access full text on the web by selecting these links:

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Can a supply be both secondary and primary?

The employment of a supply with its proper context is really what determines its designation as a main or source that is secondary.

Sporadically a source or document may act as a second supply for just one topic so that as a primary supply for the next entirely various topic.

As an example: Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, posted in 1513, can be an essential additional source for just about any research for the different Renaissance princes within the Medici family members; however the exact same guide can also be a primary supply for the governmental idea that had been characteristic for the sixteenth century since it reflects the attitudes of the person located in the 1500s.

Source: Craver, KW 1999, making use of online main Sources to Teach Critical Thinking Skills of all time, Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated, Westport.

Additional sources

Any posted or unpublished work that is one action taken off the first supply (or occasion under review). a source that is secondary defines, summarises, analyses, evaluates, interprets or reviews main supply materials.

Understand that authors of additional sources might use source that is primary to persuade visitors to guide their arguments about a meeting and its particular meaning.


  • Biographical or historic studies
  • Critical analyses
  • Dictionaries
  • Documentaries
  • Encyclopaedias
  • Journal articles
  • Reviews
  • 2nd individual account
  • Textbooks

Supply: Reitz, JM 2004, on line dictionary for library and information technology, Libraries Unlimited, Westport, Conn.

They are a few samples of secondary sources through the colletion. There are lots of more!

Access text that is full by selecting these links:

Tertiary sources

A work that is written based completely on secondary sources, as opposed to on initial research involving main papers. Whether a supply is additional or tertiary may be based on examining the bibliography ( if one is provided). Another clue is the fact that additional sources are nearly always compiled by professionals, but tertiary sources may be compiled by staff authors who possess a pursuit when you look at the topic but are perhaps not scholars about the subject.


  • Chapter in a textbook
  • Entry in a guide book

Supply: Reitz, JM 2004, on line dictionary for library and information technology, Libraries Unlimited, Westport, Conn.

Assessing sources

It is essential to assess main, secondary and sources that are tertiary precision, bias and effectiveness. All works must certanly be seen through the eyes for the creator.

Thinking about the after concerns helps figure out the authenticity of this supply, in addition to any present that is bias

  • Whom developed the source? Just how can the details are known by them such as for example names, times and times? Were they provide during the occasion? May be the given information according to individual experience, reports published by others, or information?
  • just exactly How accurate is the foundation in comparison with others (first-hand and second-hand reports)?
  • Just just just How trustworthy could be the supply? Has it been modified? Exactly just just How and exactly why achieved it endure?
  • Why so when had been the foundation produced? Why ended up being it later published? Ended up being it ever designed for book?
  • What’s the bias within the source? All papers are biased to some extent. Could be the bias accidental or purposeful?

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