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Q. Secondary Source


"secondary, adj. 1. a. Belonging to the second class in respect of dignity or importance; entitled to consideration only in the second place. Also, and usually, in less precise sense: Not in the first class; not chief or principal; of minor importance, subordinate. b. Second best; of the second grade of quality." OED


Secondary sources are secondhand accounts or interpretations of an event, object, or person. They describe, interpret, discuss, analyze, evaluate, and interpret primary sources. Secondary sources are often published works, such as textbooks, documentaries, journal articles, and nonfiction books. Also includes interpretations of the significance of data sets, book or movie reviews, etc.

It can be difficult to tell the difference between primary and secondary sources. For example, some materials might be considered a primary source of one topic but a secondary source for another. For example,  a biography about Amelia Earhart might be a secondary source for a research project about Amelia Earhart, but a primary source for a research project analyzing how historians have interpreted her life.



Consider browsing this helpful handout: 

1. Primary vs. Secondary

2. Evaluating Sources

3. Is your source peer-reviewed?


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  • Last Updated Mar 13, 2020
  • Views 4
  • Answered By Francesca Golus

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