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PHL102 Bailey

Research guide for Martha Bailey's PHL102 students, who are writing an essay on a primary work in ethics.

Primary vs. secondary sources

Learn the difference between primary and secondary sources. (Video created by Hartness Library, CCV/Vermont Tech.)
Can't see the video or would like Closed Captioning? You can watch the video on Youtube.

What are primary sources?

Primary sources are uninterpreted, original, or new materials. 

Examples include:

  • Original documents* (manuscript, poem, correspondence, letters)
  • Speech
  • Data from a study
  • Autobiography
  • Peer-reviewed journal article that report new findings
  • Interview
  • Artwork, music, play, movie

* Many primary sources are presented as books – but they are reprints of the original documents!

What are secondary sources?

Secondary sources are information sources about primary sources. Secondary sources interpret, explain, describe, or draw conclusions based on works written by others. Examples include:

  • Most books
  • Textbook
  • Dictionary, encyclopedia
  • Biography
  • Peer-reviewed journal article that critique others’ work
  • Literature review
  • Website
  • Art, book, movie, or theater review

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