Primary and Secondary Sources

October 31, 2017 Custom Essay Blog

When you are writing an essay, it is important to keep in mind the difference between primary and secondary sources. This article will explain how to choose the right information you need to write an essay well. Primary sources are first hand empirical observations and data or information derived from personal communication. They can also be historical documents and government laws and policies.


Primary sources are published in professional academic journals, papers and monographs. Secondary sources include second hand information, such as textbooks, encyclopedias, newspapers and magazines. These also include material gleaned from non-professional journals and lay periodicals such as trade magazines.


Secondary sources also include encyclopedias, compendia and codices. When writing a paper, primary sources which are referred to within secondary sources need to be examined carefully.


Information you find on the Internet can be either primary or secondary. Internet articles which contain detailed information with bibliographic references may be considered primary source material, but only if they are published within established professional journals. Most internet information is not a valid primary source, however.


If in doubt, information which you find on the Internet should be seen as a secondary source of information only. This means that you must check the reliability and accuracy of such sources carefully.


In conclusion, secondary sources of information may be used in the production of an essay or research paper. At the same time, the role of secondary sources must be a subordinate one to primary sources of data, which are generally seen as more reliable.