It is important to locate, read and refer to secondary sources in your writing.
Secondary sources describe, analyse, interpret or draw conclusions from a primary source. Secondary sources are created after the studied event/work took place or the studied work was created. They can therefore take into consideration other events and place a primary source in its historical context. Secondary sources are not evidence but rather commentary on and discussion of evidence.
Scholars generally use the term secondary source to refer to books, sections of edited books, journal articles, encylopedia and dictionary entries, newspaper and magazine reports and so on. This chart shows the distinction between primary and secondary sources:
|Primary Source||Secondary Source|
|History||Bayeux Tapestry||Book titled: The Battle of Hastings : sources and interpretations|
|Anthropology||Field notes||Article in Journal of African cultural studies|
|Literature||Jane Austen novel||Book title: Jane Austen's Literary Manuscripts: A Study of the Novelist's development through the surviving papers|
|Politics||Political cartoon||Book titled: Philippine cartoons : political caricature of the American era, 1900-1941|
Note that science disciplines may define secondary sources differently. This guide addresses the Social Sciences and Humanities definition.
Evaluation of sources is essential to scholarly research. Consider the following when looking for reliable secondary sources:
For more information on evaluating sources in general and internet sources in particular, look at: