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Primary Sources

A guide to identifying primary and secondary sources.

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What are Primary and Secondary Sources?

Primary sources reflect the first-hand experience of witnesses or people involved in an event.  Secondary sources provide analysis or interpretation of documents created by others.  Here are examples for various subject areas:

  PRIMARY SOURCE SECONDARY SOURCE
Art original work of art

critical analysis of the work of art

 

Business a company's annual report

book or article about a company's management practices and strategy

 

History Vietnam war diary

a book of historical analysis on the United States Army in Vietnam

 

Law Texas statutes

a book or article on Texas law

 

Literature a poem

critical analysis of a poem

 

Political Science Houston voting statistics

an artice about Houston voters

 

Sciences and
Social Sciences
report of an original experiment 

an article describing several experiments on the same topic

 

Theater video of a performance a review of the performance