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EN 463: Senior Research Seminar: Primary vs Secondary Sources

What are primary sources?

A primary source is an original source.

  • diaries, journals, letters
  • autobiographies and memoirs
  • period newspapers
  • government publications
  • speeches
  • interviews with witnesses
  • photographs
  • works of art
  • works of literature

What are secondary sources?

A secondary source is material created after an event has happened. It describes, discusses, interprets, comments upon, analyzes, evaluates, summarizes, and processes primary sources. For example, this is the literary criticism to your original work by an author.

  • biographies
  • articles that interpret or review previous findings
  • textbooks
  • book reviews
  • critical essays