3.3 Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Where do you find information that you need for a research paper?

The three sources most used are books, periodicals, and websites. Most information will probably be secondary information instead of primary information. This page attempts to clarify the difference between primary and secondary information.

Primary vs. Secondary

A simple explanation of primary information is that it is original information. For example, a scientist's findings based on experimentation is considered primary. An interview that you conducted and documented is also primary. Secondary information usually explains or analyzes primary information.

Watch this video

This short YouTube video created by UCSD Social Sciences and Humanities Library uses a historic event to illustrate the difference between Primary Sources and Secondary Sources. Click the title to start the video. 

What is a Primary Source?

(UCSD) Used with permission from UC-San Diego Library.