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Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources: Getting Started

This guide will help you learn more about what primary, secondary, and tertiary sources are and when to use them in your research.

Primary, Secondary, & Tertiary Sources

What are Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources?

  • Primary: original objects or documents with first-hand information or raw material.
  • Secondary: sources that analyze, interpret, or draw conclusion from a primary source.
  • Tertiary: sources that index, organize, or compile other sources.

Watch this video from the Hartness Library to learn more about primary and secondary sources.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Source Explanation

Why Should I Use Primary Sources?

  • Scholarly research is based on facts and observations. Primary sources provide first-hand observations and facts.
  • Using primary resources shows your professor that you have done the research to produce a good paper.
  • Using primary sources shows that you can interpret facts and draw your own conclusions from them.
  • Using primary and secondary sources add more substance to a paper due to a mixture of sources.