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What is a primary source and what is a secondary source?

Last updated on Feb 01, 2023    research


A primary source is firsthand information in its original form, such as literary works like novels, short stories and poems. Primary sources also include eyewitness accounts, photographs and interviews. 

Secondary sources are secondhand information that contain analysis or interpretation. Examples of secondary sources include literary analysis, all nonfiction books except autobiography, and documentaries.

For more information on types of sources, refer to Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Sources, a chapter from the open text, Choosing and Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research