VII. Types of Sources

A. Primary sources reflect the viewpoint of a participant or observer of an event or phenomenon. They are records of events as they are initially described without interpretation or commentary. They can be disorganized and offer an opportunity to draw conclusions independently. Primary sources can also be sets of data which have been tabulated but not interpreted. Some examples of primary sources are: diaries, speeches, interviews, research data, etc.

B. Secondary sources provide analysis and interpretation of an historical event or phenomenon. These sources are removed from the original event and often make information more accessible by repackaging it in a more accessible or understandable form. Secondary sources are the subsequent interpretations or studies that are based on primary sources. Secondary sources include: dictionaries, encyclopedias, textbooks, reference materials or any item that interprets or reviews research (a primary) work.

C. Scholarly sources (also referred to as academic, peer-reviewed, or refereed sources) are written by experts in a particular field and keep others interested in that field up to date on the most recent research, findings, and news. These resources provide the most substantial information for research papers.

D. Peer-reviewed sources undergo the review and scrutiny of a review board of colleagues in the authors field. They evaluate this source as part of the body of research for a particular discipline and make recommendations regarding its publication in a journal, revisions prior to publication, or, in some cases, reject its publication.

E. Current and Retrospective (Historical) Information Sources

F. Information Sources for Different Audiences and Purposes

Types of Information Sources by Empire State University