Alexander the Great
RESEARCH, MEET ANALYSIS: HOW TO USE SECONDARY SOURCES
Unlike primary sources, secondary sources examine a time period through a particular lens and often make new discoveries or examine new ideas about a historical event. Scholars who produce secondary source material did not experience the events directly.
1 LOOK FOR INSIGHTFUL COMMENTS
Will these comments help support and develop your own ideas? BE CAREFUL: don't crowd yourself out of your own paper by allowing secondary sources to take over. Just a little salt and pepper to spice up and back up your own ideas.
2 AVOID CITING RETELLINGS + OBVIOUS IDEAS
Do not cite a secondary source if it only retells events from your primary source. Use the primary source instead.
3 QUOTE APPROPRIATELY
Use short, insightful quotes. Integrate them into your own thoughts seamlessly.
4 KEEP QUOTES IN CONTEXT
Don't pluck an author's ideas and words out of the greater context of their work. Convey the same meaning as the writer when you use their work--remember, you are borrowing!
5 PRIMARY SOURCE IS PRIMARY
Your main source of support should be the primary source itself (the play, story, poem, or other text that is the subject of your paper). USE THAT THE MOST.
6 SUPPORTING SOURCES ARE SECONDARY
Always remember: your paper should MOSTLY be your ideas and quotes from the original texts. As a rule of thumb: no more than 20% of your paper should be supported with secondary sources.