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RN-BSN Library Guide

Use this Library Research Guide to help locate evidence-based resources including articles, information on research appraisal, statistics, evidence translation, clinical practice tools, informatics and professional resources.

Types of Sources

In obtaining information to develop an evidence-based practice solution, you must select articles with higher evidence levels. To start this process, you will first need to understand the differences between Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary sources:

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:

  • original notes from an experiment or original research
  • an original journal or diary
  • a novel, poem or play
  • 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 review of the literature or systematic review
  • 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 this video for more information: