A primary source is an original object or document -- the raw material or first-hand information, source material that is closest to what is being studied. Scientific and other peer reviewed journals are excellent sources for primary research.
Primary sources vary by discipline and can include historical and legal documents, eye witness accounts, results of an experiment, statistical data, pieces of creative writing, and art objects.
In the sciences, the results of an experiment or study are typically found in scholarly articles or papers delivered at conferences, so those articles and papers that present the original results are considered primary sources.
A secondary source is something written about a primary source. Secondary sources include comments on, interpretations of, or discussions about the original material. You can think of secondary sources as second-hand information. If I tell you something, I am the primary source. If you tell someone else what I told you, you are the secondard source.
Secondary source materials can be articles in newspapers or popular magazines, book or movie reviews, or articles found in scholarly journals that evaluate or criticize someone else's original research.
Tertiary sources have the most fluid definition of the three levels of analysis. Generally speaking, tertiary resources analyze and synthesize information about a given topic. In other words, tertiary sources are information about information. They summarize the research on a particular topic in a user-friendly form or list primary and secondary sources.
Created by Suffolk County Community College Library, JMM, 06-2012.
SOURCES + WHERE TO FIND THEM
|Books & eBooks||The Library currently owns 59,740 print books and 89,268 ebooks which can accessed through our Online Library Catalog.|
Research presented at the conference of the society or association. A few places where you can find proceedings:
|Databases||The Library subscribes to over 50+ databases. Databases can contain a variety of information such as abstracts, full-text articles, statistics, industry reports and conference proceedings.|
|Government Documents||U. S. Government Publishing Office produces and distributes information from all three branches of the government.|
A periodical that contains articles of popular interest on a variety topics. The articles are generally short (less than 5 pages) and the publication generally contains advertising. A few examples:
The latest print issues of the above titles are housed in the library. Check out our Journal A-Z List for a complete listing of our magazine holdings.
The Library has print subscriptions to the following newspapers: Detroit Free Press, Flint Journal, New York Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. We also subscribe to the following news databases:
An organization for a particular profession or field. Professional organizations communicate in a variety of ways but more formally through conference proceedings and journals. A few examples:
A periodical that disseminates research and commentary in a specific field of study. Most scholarly journal articles are peer-reviewed by experts in the field. A few examples of scholarly journals:
We subscribe to over 55,000+ journals, check out our Journal A-Z List!
|Thesis Collection||The Library houses theses from 1946 - present in the Digital Thesis Archive. If you need assistance accessing the Digital Thesis Archive refer to our Digital Thesis Archive LibGuide. Theses from the last 15 years can be downloaded in .PDF form. Older theses can be converted to digital from microfilm/microfiche.|
A magazine, newspaper or web publication geared towards a specific profession or industry. A few examples:
|Standards & Technical Papers||
Standards and technical papers are another way professional organizations communicate and set universal guidelines for an industry. A few examples are listed below: