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BIO201: Biology Behind the News

Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Sources


Primary Sources:

  • original research
  • usually 1st appearance of results
  • research conducted BY authors of paper

Examples: 

  • Proceedings of meetings, conferences and symposia
  • Technical reports 
  • Dissertations or theses
  • Patents
  • Newspaper articles
  • Data sets, such as census statistics 
  • Listservs, newsgroups, and email
  • Scientific journal articles reporting experimental research results 

Secondary Sources:

  • describe, interpret, analyse, evaluate, comment on, and discuss primary sources
  • repackage and reorganize information

Examples:

  • Dissertations or theses (may also be primary)
  • Databases
  • Books (may also be primary)
  • Newspaper articles (may also be primary)
  • Review articles
  • Magazine articles

Tertiary Sources:

  • compile, analyse and condense secondary sources into a convenient, easy-to-read form
  • tend to be factual

Examples: 

  • Dictionaries and encyclopedias 
  • Databases (may also be secondary)
  • Textbooks 
  • Course specific webpages

Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Sources