Practicing source-ery: Utilizing primary and secondary sources

Primary and secondary sourcesPrimary and secondary sources

Now that research paper-writing season is well underway, you may be hearing your professors discussing the need for primary sources as well as secondary sources. Sidney Silverman Library at Bergen Community College (NJ) offers a straightforward definition of the difference between primary and secondary sources. “Primary sources are original materials such as autobiographies, poems, diaries, documents, research articles, original data, or an original creation such as a piece of art.”  Materials that “describe, explain or interpret primary sources,” they explain, are secondary sources. “These include literature criticism, biographies, books about a topic, reviews, encyclopedias and dictionaries.” A well-written research paper includes a range of primary and secondary sources throughout in order to have a well-balanced collection of resources and facts. Learn how to distinguish between the two and discover some lesser known resources for each!

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