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Primary vs. Secondary

When evaluating information, it is useful to identify if it's a Primary or Secondary source. By doing so, you will be able recognize if the author is reporting on his/her own first hand experiences, or relying on the views of others.

Primary Source

A first person account by someone who experienced or witnessed an event. The original document has not been previously published or interpreted by anyone else.

Examples include:

  • First person account of an event
  • First publication of a scientific study
  • Speech or lecture
  • Original artwork
  • Handwritten manuscript
  • Letters between two people
  • A diary
  • Historical documents, e.g. Bill of Rights

 

Secondary Source

One step removed from the primary original source. The author is reexamining, interpreting and forming conclusions based on the information conveyed in the primary source.

Examples include:

  • Newspaper reporting on a scientific study
  • Review of a music CD or art show
  • Biography

 

Ms. Cidney Mayes | Memorial Middle School | 120 Wescott Road | South Portland, Maine | 04106 | Tel: 207-773-5629