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BIO 116: The Brain, from Molecules to the Mind (Cremins): Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary and Secondary Sources Defined

What is a primary source?

The original document, work of art, lab report, interview, etc. There has been no evaluation or interpretations of the material. It’s what research is based off of.

Examples:

  • Artifacts (e.g. coins, plant specimens, fossils, furniture, tools, clothing, all from the time under study);
  • Audio recordings (e.g. radio programs)
  • Diaries;
  • Internet communications on email, listservs;
  • Interviews (e.g., oral histories, telephone, e-mail);
  • Journal articles published in peer-reviewed publications;
  • Letters;
  • Newspaper articles written at the time;
  • Original Documents (i.e. birth certificate, will, marriage license, trial transcript);
  • Patents;
  • Photographs
  • Proceedings of Meetings, conferences and symposia;
  • Records of organizations, government agencies (e.g. annual report, treaty, constitution, government document);
  • Speeches;
  • Survey Research (e.g., market surveys, public opinion polls);
  • Video recordings (e.g. television programs);
  • Works of art, architecture, literature, and music (e.g., paintings, sculptures, musical scores, buildings, novels, poems).

http://www.lib.umd.edu/tl/guides/primary-sources#primary

What is a secondary source?

Secondary sources are written about the primary sources. They are written after the fact, as commentary or discussion of the primary source.

Examples include:

  • Bibliographies;
  • Biographical works;
  • Commentaries, criticisms;
  • Dictionaries, Encyclopedias ;
  • Histories;
  • Journal articles;
  • Magazine and newspaper articles ;
  • Monographs, other than fiction and autobiography;
  • Textbooks;
  • Web site (also considered primary).

http://www.lib.umd.edu/tl/guides/primary-sources#secondary

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