Examples of Primary SourcesExamples of Secondary Sources
Original research articles published in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals

Scholarly articles which critique original research articles

Interviews Review articles from scholarly journals
Correspondence, including Letters

Book or movie reviews

Diaries Dictionaries (can also be a tertiary source)
Court Cases Directories (can also be a tertiary source)
Government Documents Encyclopedias (can also be a tertiary source)
Laws and Legislation Handbooks (can also be a tertiary source)
Speeches Textbooks (can also be a tertiary source)

More Information

Where to Find Primary Sources

You may find primary sources in library databases, which are most easily accessed through the library research guides.

You may also find primary sources in the library catalog.  Use primary source keywords like speeches, interviews, diaries, or letters when searching the catalog. 

Note: The library databases may contain references to both primary and secondary literature. You will need to examine each resource carefully to determine which one it is.  

Definition of Primary Sources

Primary sources in the social sciences:

  • are written documents, sound recordings, artifacts, or any material that was created during the time period being studied
  • have not been analyzed, critiqued or interpreted by anyone else
  • are original, first-hand, raw material, which come directly from the author or maker.

Secondary sources in the social sciences: 

  • analyze, evaluate, summarize, compare, critique, or interpret primary sources.

Tertiary sources in the social sciences:

  • are collections of primary and/or secondary sources.

Links to More Information