What is the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Resources?
Primary sources, vary somewhat by discipline, but generally are considered to be original resources (first-hand or eyewitness accounts). They may include first hand newspaper accounts, letters, diaries, memoirs, some journals that report new research finding photos, artifacts, research data, government documents, art work, and more. They can include legal and historical documents.
Secondary sources (second-hand accounts) evaluate, analyze and/or interpret primary sources. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics taken from primary sources.They may include some ;newspaper, some journals, and magazines.
Research versus Review Articles
Scientific disciplines; often consider peer reviewed journals to be;sources for primary research, but not all articles are primary. Articles that review, analyze, and evaluate other people's works are generally seen as secondary resources. Typical research articles include;abstracts, methods, results, and discussion and may include a literature review.
Definitions of Primary Sources vary by Academic Discipline
Humanities - Primary sources (original) are often written during the time period of the event and may include reflection of the event.
Social Studies - Primary sources (original) are often written during the time period of the event and may include numerical data that analyzes relationships between events, people and / or the environment.
Natural Sciences; - Primary sources (original) may include original findings or ideas. Unedited, untranslated original transcripts. Conference proceedings are sometimes categorized as primary sources.
Selected Primary Source Categories by Discipline
|Accounting||SEC filings, company reports, Press releases|
|Anthropology||artifacts, field notes, photographs, fossils|
|Art||letters, motion pictures, paintings, personal accounts, photos, sculptures, sketchbooks, weaving, pottery|
|Aviation||diaries, journals, photographs|
|Biology||field notes, specimens, research reports, lab reports|
|Chemistry||field notes, detailed lab reports, source materials on findings, lab reports|
|Communication Studies||interviews, diaries, speeches|
|Computer Science||software; patent|
|Criminal Justice||cases, testimony, written decision, precedent, governmental policy|
|Education||statistics, consumer surveys, data series, diaries, interviews, case studies|
|English||original works of literature, original manuscripts, autobiographies, film, plays, performances, diaries, journals, letters|
|Geography||maps, oral histories, letters|
|History||artifacts, autobiographies, diaries, interviews, letters, maps, oral histories, photographs, speeches, works of art, personal papers|
|Management||annual reports, statistical data, surveys, public opinion polls|
|Mathematics||papers and notes of original mathematicians|
|MAHPLS||Interviews, case studies|
|Music||letters, scores, personal accounts, original sound recordings|
|Philosophy||texts written by philosophers, religious documents: Bible, prayers, Koran|
|Physics||scientific notes, statistics, observation data, lab measures; patent|
|Political Science||treaties, laws,court cases, government policy, U.S. government census data|
|Psychology||empirical data, Interviews, questionnaire data, observation data, lab measurements, empirical data, interviews|
|Social Work||questionnaire data, observation data, lab measurements, case studies|
|Sociology||artifacts, interviews, oral histories, statistical data, surveys, empirical data, interviews, questionnaire data, observation data, lab measurements|
|Spanish||diaries, letters ( in original language)|