Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Primary information is the original account or text of an event. Diaries, novels, movies, letters, interviews, speeches, and historical documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, are all primary sources. It is any information that has not been analyzed or interpreted.

Examples:

  • Book: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • Video: Video footage of the 9/11 tragedy
  • Journal article: Original research from a study about college students and depression

Secondary information places primary information into context, or interprets primary sources. Secondary sources are repackaged information; generally speaking, secondary sources describe, summarize, analyze, or evaluate information taken from primary sources.

Examples:

  • Book: Understanding Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl: A Student Casebook
  • Website: A website about New Yorkers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder in relation to the 9/11 tragedy
  • Magazine article: A magazine article that summarizes the research findings about college students and depression

Video Tutorial on Primary vs. Secondary Sources