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Primary sources

Primary sources contain information which is original, and can often be the most up-to-date information available. Primary sources will be written or produced by people who were directly involved in the research or events being presented and described in those sources.

Primary sources are records that provide first-hand testimony or evidence of an event, action, topic, or time period. Primary sources are usually created by individuals that directly experience an event or topic, and record their experience through photographs, videos, memoirs, correspondence, oral histories, or autobiographies.

Secondary literature is the mass of published materials that interpret, evaluate, or analyse the evidence derived from primary sources. Secondary sources provide a factual context or interpretative framework for your analysis.

Secondary resources take a wide range of forms:

  • academic books.
  • journal articles.
  • documentaries.
  • biographies.
  • annotations or commentaries on primary sources.
  • textbooks.
  • magazine articles.

Tertiary resources summarise, abstract or index the information derived from primary or secondary sources. These sources can assist you to find background information on your topic (such as definitions, names and dates) or take you to relevant books and general articles.

Theses sources include:

  • encyclopedias.
  • dictionaries.
  • atlases.
  • handbooks.
  • indexes.
  • review articles.

Resource Types