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UTSC Finding Primary Sources
Learn what primary sources are and how to find them.
Primary, Secondary, Tertiary Sources & Grey Literature
Primary Sources are:
Researchers reporting first-hand about their new research
Includes some Journal articles and some Books (monographs)
Secondary Sources are:
Summarizing, analysing or reporting the work of other researchers.
No new research results are presented
Include Review articles, Systematic Reviews, Newspaper articles, some books and others
Tertiary Sources are:
Summarzing the well known and well accepted information on a subject
Includes textbooks, encyclopedias, websites, etc.
May include lab notebooks, blogs, pre-prints, conference presentations, etc.
Recognizing Primary Sources in the Sciences
Typically, Primary journal articles will have a common structure that includes:
Methods/Methods & Materials
Secondary/Review articles frequently contain many of the same sections but frequently will not have a Methods or Methods & Materials section. If they do, they will discuss how the articles to be reviewed were found and selected.
Look for a Methods or Methods and Materials Section as a quick check to see if an article may be primary. Read this section to see if the researchers are talking about their new research.