In the sciences, a primary source is original or new material on which other research is based. Included are journal articles, conference papers, dissertations, technical reports and sets of data. A secondary source analyzes, evaluates, re-packages, summarizes or reorganizes information reported by researchers in the primary literature. Many books including textbooks, newspaper or magazine articles, encyclopedias, and scholarly review articles are examples of secondary sources. For further help, see information on the handout below:
Through the Internet, there is much more information available today than was the case only a few years ago. The following four criteria can help you to evaluate your sources:
Thinking about any type of publication, including web sites, in this way will help ensure that you have located the best information available.
If you would like some real-life examples of how to evaluate materials for your research, the Gingrich Guide, the library's self-paced online tutorial, has a section Evaluating Sources, which specifically focuses on the four criteria above and how to use them.