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Shapiro Library

Getting Started with Research at Shapiro Library

This guide discusses understanding information sources, formulating a topic and search phrase, where and how to search the library for information, how to evaluate sources, how to cite sources, and more.

Types of Sources


You may be asked to use a number of different types of sources including Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary:

Primary Sources

Primary Sources consist of original materials--a first-hand account of something. This information has not been filtered through interpretation. Examples of primary sources include:

  • an original journal or diary
  • a novel, poem or play
  • original notes from an experiment or original research
  • an original letter
  • a piece of artwork or furniture, musical score, or theatrical performance

 

Secondary Sources

Secondary Sources are written after something has happened and has the benefit of hindsight. This information includes interpretations and evaluations of primary information. Examples of secondary sources include:

  • a critique of a poem, play, or piece of literature
  • a history book based on primary historical sources
  • a scientific report based on experimental notes
  • commentaries and criticisms
  • biographical works

 

Tertiary Sources

Tertiary Sources are a distillation and collection of primary and secondary information. They usually include or are based on a range of secondary sources. Examples of tertiary sources include:

  • almanacs
  • fact books
  • encyclopedias
  • chronologies
  • guidebooks
  • manuals
  • directories

Check out these videos for more information: