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What's a Secondary Source?

What is a Secondary Source?

What is a Secondary Source?


Secondary sources put primary sources in context. They summarize, interpret, analyze, or comment on information found in primary sources. Secondary sources are usually written by individuals who did not experience firsthand the events about which they are writing.


Common Examples of SECONDARY Sources: Biographies, monographs, journal articles, dissertations, theses, essays and encyclopedia articles.


Primary vs. Secondary sources

Discipline Primary Source Secondary Source
History Slave diary Book about the underground railroad
Art Original artwork created by an artist Article critiquing the piece of art
Literature Original poem written by a poet Essay on a particular genre of poetry
Political Science Treaty between two governments Essay on Native American land rights in the US
Science or Social Sciences Report of an original experiment Review of several studies on the same topic
Theatre Videotape of a performance Biography of a playwright

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