Secondary sources were developed by someone who did not witness or participate in the events or situations you are investigating firsthand. Secondary sources for a historical research assignment are often scholarly books and articles. Primary sources are interpreted and analyzed by secondary sources. For example, a historian might study government documents, interviews with eyewitnesses, and statistics to learn more about what happened during the Civil War.
Primary sources are original documents such as letters, journals, and reports that provide first-hand information on subjects being studied by historians. Examples of primary sources include letters written by Lincoln, notes taken during meetings, and accounts of battles written by those who participated in them. Because primary sources are collected originally for use by historians, they usually contain much more information than can be used by researchers. To keep things organized, historians must decide which parts of the primary source to include in their writings and which to leave out.
Secondary sources are works that relate facts, descriptions, or opinions about persons or events that have been obtained from other people or sources. These may be official records such as government documents or transcripts of conversations, or they may be published materials such as books or articles. Historians use secondary sources to supplement information found in primary sources.
A secondary source of knowledge, on the other hand, is one that was developed later by someone who did not see or engage in the events or situations you're investigating firsthand. These writers may or may not have spoken with some of the people involved in the events they describe.
The major problem with using secondary sources as your only source of information is that they can be very biased. A book or article that makes a particular argument or point of view may well reflect the author's beliefs, but they can also be wrong. If you use these sources without questioning their validity, you could get the mistaken idea that certain things happened or didn't happen when they really didn't. For example, if a book says that Hitler never made any attempts on his own life, but records of his medical expenses show he really did have surgery performed by another man, then the book would be considered a secondary source.
Books and articles are only one type of secondary source. Other forms of secondary evidence include letters, journals, newspapers, and photographs. All of these pieces of evidence must be evaluated by researchers to determine their accuracy and reliability.
Secondary sources provide material and opinion gathered from other scholars. Journal articles, book reviews, and scholarly books are some examples. Primary sources are described, interpreted, or synthesized in secondary sources. For example, a study of presidential elections might include research on past elections, political science theories about why elections occur, analysis of recent election data, and discussion of issues surrounding presidential power.
In academic work, it is customary to refer to these sources as "primary" or "secondary." Although most primary sources are written by individuals involved in the events they describe, many secondary sources are written by others who had access to information about the topic under review. For example, a historian writing about the American Civil War may use official records of Confederate and Union forces, letters and diaries from those involved in the war, and so on.
People often use opinions expressed in secondary sources to support their own arguments or points of view. For example, someone who supports slavery might look at studies of various countries' experiences with apprenticeship systems and conclude that such a policy is beneficial because it provides good jobs for people who would otherwise be unemployed. Or, someone opposed to racism might read reports about police practices across the United States and then write a article arguing that we need more police on the streets because these studies show that areas with more officers have lower rates of crime.
Second-hand sources are based on or are related to original sources. Secondary sources include articles and books in which writers interpret data from another research team's experiment or archive footage of an occurrence. Tertiary sources are a step further away from that. They are facts or statements obtained by direct personal observation or investigation. Tertiary sources include internet sites, museums, newspapers, and official government documents.
Primary sources are the original records that information is extracted from. These can be archival materials such as manuscripts or photographs, or they can be contemporary materials such as interviews or observations. Primary sources often provide evidence that cannot be found elsewhere; for example, an interview with someone who was there at the time of an event may provide information about what happened that cannot be learned from other people's memories of it.
In academic writing, sources are important because they help to ensure that ideas are valid and reliable. If different researchers come to different conclusions about an event or phenomenon, this shows that the issue under study is not well understood. In order to avoid misleading readers, therefore, it is essential that authors identify their sources and explain how they reached their conclusions.
Sources can also help readers understand issues within their field of interest. For example, if you were writing about animal behavior, you would need to refer to sources that discuss different types of animals' behaviors in order to make your point successfully.
Books, journal articles, lectures, reviews, research reports, and other materials are examples of secondary sources. Secondary sources are typically written several years after the events being examined. Therefore, they can provide information about how people have changed, new developments in society, etc.
Secondary sources are a very important part of any library. They can give you more information about a topic that you may not have known before. In order to use these sources effectively, it is important to understand what type of source they are and why someone would want to read them.
Book Reviews: Authors who have reviewed other books about their subject matter will usually be listed in the bibliography or acknowledgments section of the book. Reviewers often comment on the strengths and weaknesses of other books as well as mention books that were especially helpful to them while writing their own. Thus, reviewers can help you make an informed decision about which book to buy.
Lectures: When teachers plan lessons they often refer to materials that are available online. For example, if they want to learn more about racism, they might watch a lecture by Elizabeth Hartnett or Peggy McIntosh or read an article by Heather Mac Donald. These are all examples of lectures used for teaching purposes.
Lectures are also given by experts in their field.