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Archives and Special Collections

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are secondary accounts that analyze, evaluate, amalgamate, or otherwise add context to a variety of primary evidence, such as data, artifacts, archival documents, recordings etc.

Primary Sources  
Secondary Sources
Interviews and oral histories Journal Articles 
objects and artifacts  Reviews (of books, art, music, theatre, etc.)
Survey and other research data and observations Reviews (of books, art, music, theatre, etc.)
Works of art, literature, or music Books or monographs
Correspondence, diaries, and journals

Scholarly articles using survey, systematic

review, or qualitative meta-analysis methods

Government and legal documents  Biographies
Government and legal documents  Publications of collected works
Patents, designs, and blueprints         

Adapted from "Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Sources"  ( by George Mason University licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)