When research is conducted, you have to gather evidence and information from primary and secondary sources and combine them in the end.
Primary sources are where you would expect to find direct evidence and raw information on a subject. Some examples of primary sources consist of transcripts from interviews, artworks, or even statistical data that might be used. Thus, a primary source is where you would get unswerving admission to the topic of your study.
Secondary sources provide you with information that is considered second-hand. You can expect to find commentaries from other researches or a review from someone on the topic. Some of the examples of secondary sources include journal articles, academic books, and so on. A secondary source can be called an interpretation of primary sources with description.
In terms of credibility between primary and secondary sources, it is obvious that primary sources are much more reliable, but secondary research includes points from both primary and secondary sources.
If you are researching about an event, person, or even a phenomenon, a primary source is where you will find direct information to back your research. The difference between primary and secondary sources lies in the fact that primary sources are usually the prime substances of your research and analysis.
Now, if the topic you are researching has already happened in the past, you won’t be able to access the information by yourself. Then, you would have to refer to primary sources that came into existence at that time, like newspapers and photographs.
If your research topic is something current, the primary sources you are considering can either be quantitative or qualitative, based on your requirement. Some examples of these data sources include interviews, experiments, and so on. You might even choose to collect data from sources produced by someone directly involved in the matter, such as media texts or any official documents you might find.
Suppose the field of your research is history, in that case, some examples of primary sources related to that can be official records or documents, diaries, video footage, letters, official documents, and photographs, or even physical objects.
If it is art and literature, some examples can be paintings, poems, films, novels, art illustrations, and so on.
If what you are researching falls under communication and social studies, some examples of primary sources are magazines, transcripts of interviews, newspapers, social media posts, and many more.
Examples of primary sources for the field of politics and law can be court records, government documents, and legal texts.
For pure sciences, a primary source can be statistical data and empirical studies.
Whenever anything describes an interpretation or analysis of information derived from a primary source, it is known as a secondary source. Some examples for secondary sources are:
Whenever you are citing a secondary source, usually, it’s not for the purpose of analyzing the information directly. You would probably want to take a reference from its notions to help you create your own or to test the arguments it makes against primary evidence.
A place of information can be categorized as both primary and secondary sources based on your research question. If the main object of your research is also the producer of the source from where you are getting information about it, it is called a primary source.
Documentary: Now, suppose you are writing a paper on the causes of World War II, and you manage to find a documentary about the war which was released recently; it is a secondary source. But at the same time, if what you are researching happens to be the filmmaking methods practised in historical documentaries, then the same documentary can both be the primary and secondary sources of your research.
Reviews and essays: If you are researching the novels of Toni Morrison, then a particular review in a magazine featuring one of her novels would be a secondary source. But, at the same time, if your paper contains a critical appreciation of her work, then that same magazine review can be a primary source.
Articles in newspapers: If you are looking to analyze the government’s economic policy, an article in a newspaper about the policy itself is a secondary source. Again, if what you are trying to do is analyze the media coverage of economic topics, that article can be a primary source.
There are some questions that can help you differentiate between primary and secondary sources of your research, some of them are:
Usually, almost every research utilizes information from both primary and secondary sources. The sources are complementary to each other and, in the end, will help you build an argument that is convincing to anyone who reads it. In terms of credibility, primary sources are right up there, but secondary sources highlight how your paper is related to researches on the topic of your paper that already exists.
In the instance of original research, Primary sources are the foundation of the research. They will help you to:
Primary sources are a must if your research is to be deemed original or reliable.
Secondary sources are mostly used to get a full impression of your subject, it can also be used to understand how other researchers have approached the topic of research. Most secondary sources synthesize significant amounts of primary sources and to gather it all by yourself would be a waste of time and energy. These sources allow you to:
If you are considering a literature review, secondary sources are a way to gain a detailed summary of the topic you are researching. If you want to mention a piece of information you found in a secondary source; you should probably seek out the primary source and then cite it directly from there.
It is important to remember that you need to refer to all primary and secondary sources used in your paper correctly to avoid plagiarism.
Primary sources offer credible information on your topic. Best primary sources include academic journals, newspaper articles etc, as they offer exact information based on research and ground reports.
When comparing primary and secondary sources, secondary sources come into play when the full picture is not clear with primary sources. The secondary sources help to provide supplementary information about your topic.
Information like original statistical data, a novel or any work in art, and records of personal communications can usually be considered primary sources at all times.
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