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BIO 252 - Modeling Systems of Life

Types of Sources

Primary Sources, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources

What’s the difference?


A Primary Source is original research, the first place a researcher publishes his or her findings.

        Examples: journal articles, conference presentations, technical reports, field data.

  • Contain a detailed description of the research methodology and results. 
  • References to research which a publication is based on or attempting to refute. 

A Secondary Source discusses, explains, describes, analyzes, or summarizes primary sources.

         Examples :books and review articles. 

  • Provide citations (references) to the primary literature.
  • May indicate the key researchers and research institutions in the field

A Tertiary Source  describes or analyzes a group of secondary sources.

         Examples: annotated bibliographies, encyclopedias and dictionaries.

  • Great source of background information on a topic.