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Primary and secondary sources: Information types

Types of information that are primary and secondary sources

Primary information

1.1 First Hand:

First-hand evidence about an event, object, person or work of art.

1.2 Original:

Straight from the original source

1.3 Evidence:

Evidence made up of original documents and raw data

Examples:

  • Historical and legal documents -these could be government publications, legal documents such as legislation and case law, oral histories, company records, eyewitness accounts.

  • Diaries - journals, letters and diaries.

  • Works of Art and Recordings - including photographs, audio recordings, video recordings and films, original works of art, creative writing.

 

Secondary information

2.1 Second-hand:

Created later by someone who didn't have first-hand experience. Secondary sources describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyse, evaluate, summarize, and process primary sources.

2.2 Not original:

A secondary source is one that gives information about a primary source. Secondary sources involve generalization, analysis, synthesis, interpretation or evaluation of the original information.

2.3 After the event:

Written or produced after the event has passed with the benefit of hindsight.

Examples:

  • Books - textbooks and monographs which provide broad, foundational coverage of a topic, usually with an in-depth analysis.

  • Scholarly Articles – are articles written and reviewed by experts in the discipline after the event or research has been undertaken.

  • Newspapers -news reports of something that has already happened.  Available in print and online and one of the first mediums to report on an event after social media.

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